Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does United Way work?
Through financial contributions and volunteered time, United Way brings people and resources together to address the most pressing human service needs here in our community. These issues, like strengthening and supporting families, preparing children to be successful in school and helping adults be self-sufficient and successful in the work place, are important to everyone.
2. Who is responsible for the activities of United Way?
The volunteer members of the Board of Directors, in addition to being accountable to the community, are legally responsible to see that the affairs of United Way are properly managed. United Way funds are audited yearly by an independent auditing firm and audits are open to the public.
3. What else does United Way do besides fund programs?
We raise money and invest it in our most important community issues, but there's more! United Way also helps people and organizations volunteer through The Volunteer Center, or donate household and office items through Gifts In Kind. United Way 2-1-1, formerly First Call for Help, connects people who need help with local resources. United Way's CNP services provide training and assistance to enable nonprofits to operate more effectively and efficiently. Children's service providers work together more effectively through Invest In Children. These are other ways that United Way is impacting your community.
Thousands benefit from your donation each year in the greater Chattanooga area, Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama. Maybe your neighbors, co-workers or even your family have used United Way-funded programs this year. Emergency food, shelter and other programs are only part of the big picture. If your children are involved in Boys and Girls Clubs, or take swimming lessons at the YMCA, or if a loved one needed Hospice, you've benefited from United Way.
No. Contributed dollars are allocated where they will do the most good for the entire community. Services are aimed at helping all people, although some may be restricted by age, income or other criteria. Perhaps you, a neighbor or co-worker, or a member of your family has benefited from the services of a United Way agency and didn't even realize it.
Your gift helps fund more than 70 vital, LOCAL programs that help strengthen families, support seniors, help children get ready to learn in school and help adults become self-sufficient and successful on the job. For a complete list of funded programs go to "Our Partners." All dollars raised locally are distributed locally to help strengthen our community.
Yes. In 2002, United Way partners provided more than $3.5 million in services to nearly 55,000 residents of Walker, Catoosa and Dade Counties. Many services are provided directly in those counties, but many residents depend on United Way-funded services that are provided across the state line in Chattanooga.
8. Who decides how donations are spent?
Volunteers (like you) decide how much money is allocated to the programs we fund. Many Allocation Committee volunteers visit agencies and review their programs and budgets annually to assure that every dollar is well spent. You may designate your gift, however, most contributors rely on United Way's volunteer review process to make the best use of their money. When the giving power of many are combined, it can have a powerful impact on our community. If you would like to get involved in the allocations process, contact United Way at 752-0300.
Free service may be provided when someone cannot afford to pay. However, if a person is financially able, payment for all or a portion of the cost of the services received, on a sliding-fee scale, is necessary. This stretches your United Way dollars, allowing even more people to be helped.
NO! United Way's overhead costs are fully covered by an Endowment Fund, which means 100% of your United Way donation goes to fund 80 vital, local human service programs that get results and measurably strengthen our community. Get all the facts at "About Us."
No single agency can meet all community needs. High profile causes or organizations with large fund-raising budgets would get the most support, while smaller, but equally vital programs could be left behind. When you give to the general campaign, your gift is magnified with the gifts of others, impacting the issues in our community that advance the common good.
It doesn't! The amount of your contribution is a personal matter which only you can decide. The Suggested Giving Guide is nothing more than a recommendation that was developed by volunteers after so many people asked, "How much should I give? What do others give?"
Absolutely not! Giving to United Way is strictly voluntary. We strongly discourage coercion in our volunteer training and with participating companies, pointing out that coercion creates more problems than it solves. We believe that information and education about how United Way serves the community is the best way to encourage contributions. Your gift does make a difference and we want you to make an informed and willing decision when you give.
14. My spouse gives, why should I?
Charitable giving is an individual decision. Your spouse's gift may be based on his or her income level and personal reasons, not your combined income or your interests. But, most importantly, United Way gives everyone the power to have an impact - to change lives and strengthen our community. The only way we can be successful in addressing what matters is if we enable everyone to do their part and make a generous gift.
The member organizations of United Way do not have equal appeal to everyone; however, each one is an essential part of the human service system in our community. Hundreds of people look to these agencies for help and guidance. If you feel strongly about it, you may exclude a specific member agency from receiving any portion of your gift. You may also designate your gift to an area of service or a specific member agency. Ask your company's United Way employee campaign manager for more information.
16. Who pays for campaign meeting meals?
Local companies have donated money to be used specifically for meetings and luncheons. This donation is in addition to their corporate contributions. United Way is run by volunteers, people who usually have careers in addition to their United Way commitment. Noon is often the most convenient hour for these people to take time from their job. That's why so many United Way meetings are scheduled around the lunch hour. By providing a meal, corporate meeting sponsors are saying thanks to the many people who volunteer their time and talent on behalf of United Way.
The National Football League (NFL) donates more than $45 million in advertising to United Way each year. Many other commercials are donated through the National Advertising Council. Local television and radio stations run United Way public service announcements, free of charge, to help residents become aware of help that is available. The same is true of billboards; local companies donate artwork and billboard space.
United Way of America (UWA) is a training and service center created by the independent United Ways across the country as a way of sharing ideas and resources. It has allowed us to work more efficiently and effectively, helping our local dollars go farther.
When you hear news about United Way, please take time to find out which United Way is in the news. There are over 1,400 separate United Way organizations across the country and each operates independently under local control. United Way agencies and services are different in each community. Volunteers in our tri-state area decide how funds are best used to meet local needs. When in doubt, call your United Way for the facts: (423) 752-0300.