Commonly Asked Questions About United Way
We are glad when people want to know more about the United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties.
Here are some questions that are asked often—about employee campaigns, about the way pledges and contributions are recorded and processed, and about how the dollars given to United Way help children and families in our community.
Thank you from United Way and all the children and families who benefit from your hard work. Your investment supports the building blocks for better lives and a stronger community.
Marisel Losa, President & CEO
1. What kind of organizations does United Way support?
United Way uses local data and knowledge to determine funding priorities based on the greatest needs in our community. United Way works to advance the common good by focusing on three building blocks for a good quality life – education, financial stability, and health. We collaborate with non-profit programs and initiatives in Greenwood and Abbeville Counties to make an impact in these areas.
2. Why do most people give to United Way?
Most folks give quite simply to help others. In a workplace survey, this reason was mentioned three times more often that any others. Additional reasons include: an interest in one or more of United Way’s funded organizations, a culture of giving within the workplace, and a desire for a stronger community.
3. Why should I give to United Way instead of just making a contribution to a single organization like the Salvation Army or Girl Scouts of America?
Giving to United Way is the most powerful way to give to your community. Your donation multiplies when combined with others. Together we can create more impact than any one person could accomplish alone in achieving a healthier, stronger community! You are giving not only to the two well-known organizations mentioned, but also many others that may be less well known, but whose work is equally vital to our community. As outstanding fiscal stewards, you can rely on United Way for data driven evaluation of community needs and re-investment of your dollars where they are needed most through the fund distribution process.
4. Even so, if there is an organization that is special to me, can I choose it to receive part or all of my United Way gift?
Yes, you can designate part or your entire gift to one or more United Way’s funded organizations. There is a place on your pledge form to do that.
5. Why should I give every year when the United Way has never helped me or my family?
The United Way represents a community of connected individuals, all people, united and working together for the benefit of all. Unlike charities that base their appeal on giving to the needy United Way recognizes that we are all part of something greater, and that a tear anywhere weakens the entire social fabric. While you may not directly receive benefits from a funded organization, we all win when a child succeeds in school, when a neighborhood turns around, when families have good health and workers have solid jobs.
6. Do United Way organizations serve only low-income individuals?
Organizations receiving United Way funding serve not only low-income families but also offer programs that all citizens use. (If your child has taken part in a YMCA program, then he or she has taken part in a United Way program.) And even if your family never has to call on Beyond Abuse or Greenwood Cancer Fund, isn’t it a good feeling to know they will be there if you need them?
7. How much of every dollar I give is really spent on human care services?
The United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties has a history of low overhead costs. However, United Way believes that the percent of expenses that go to administrative and fundraising costs—commonly referred to as “overhead”—is a poor measure of our performance. We ask you to pay attention to other factors of performance: transparency, governance, leadership, and results. We will continue to increase the depth and breadth of the information we provide to donors in these areas to provide a much fuller picture of our performance. That is not to say that overhead has no role in ensuring accountability. At the extremes the overhead ratio can offer insight: it can be a valid data point for rooting out fraud and poor financial management. In most cases, however, focusing on overhead without considering other critical dimensions of a charity’s financial and organizational performance does more damage than good. Overhead costs include important investments United Way makes to improve our work: investments in training, planning, evaluation, and internal systems— as well as efforts to raise money so we can have the greatest community impact. These expenses allow United Way to be sustainable and continuously improve.
8. How much of every United Way dollar goes to United Way Worldwide?
Less than 1% of every dollar goes to United Way Worldwide. United Way Worldwide is a service organization that helps local independent United Ways save money through shared services and national advertising. An example would be the NFL spot commercials, which raise awareness of United Way services to a vast national audience and thereby help hundreds of local United Way campaigns.
9. How large is the United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville counties staff?
At present there are 6 full-time staff members. They serve in campaign planning and operation, financial record keeping, communications, community issues, member organization funding, and volunteer recruitment and coordination.
10. Where is the United Way office located?
Our office is located at 929 Phoenix Street in Greenwood. Greenwood and Abbeville Counties residents are welcome to stop in any time to share opinions, ask questions, and learn about United Way organization services and volunteer opportunities. We understand Greenwood and Abbeville Counties covers a vast area. We have partnerships all across the counties and can make arrangements to meet with you outside of our office if it’s more convenient. Do not hesitate to call us!
11. Has the United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties ever had a scandal or an accusation of wrong doing?
No, it has not. Our United Way is carefully governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and everyone associated with the organization is held responsible for abiding by a specific Code of Ethics. Employee personnel policies are reviewed frequently, and adherence is carefully monitored. Full financial reports are carefully reviewed by the Board of Directors, and an annual audit is conducted by an outside accountant.
12. How does United Way feel about workplace pressure to give?
While we strongly believe in the mission of United Way and feel it is important to invest in our community we are strongly opposed to coercion in the workplace. We have no control over how an employee campaign is conducted in the workplace but do conduct meetings with the company coordinator prior to the annual campaign. United Way believes that giving is a personal decision, and we know that many factors influence what you and your family might decide to pledge in a given year.
13. Doesn’t giving to my church accomplish the same good as giving to United Way?
Donations to your church are one important part of your charitable giving. United Way giving is another part—it’s a commitment to our community that we share with all our neighbors here in Greenwood and Abbeville counties.
14. If a husband and wife both work, does it matter which workplace gets the United Way pledge?
No, it really doesn’t. But organizations running strong United Way campaigns build lots of enthusiasm, and they naturally want the most dollars possible credited to their campaign! Many couples therefore pledge at both workplaces or alternate each year.
15. How does payroll deduction affect pledges?
When the money can be paid conveniently through payroll deduction, donors pledge more—considerably more. Offering payroll deduction is a way that employers can really help United Way and the community.
16. What is United Way’s legal obligation to give donors a receipt?
Federal law requires that a single (lump sum) donation of $250 or more be acknowledged by the end of January the following year. If a donor makes several payments of less than $250 during the year, or uses payroll deduction, this requirement does not apply. In the case of payroll deduction at work, employers show the total annual United Way deduction on employee pay stubs, and United Way actually cannot legally send a separate receipt.
17. As an employer, how can I encourage membership in United Way’s Leadership Giving?
We know the best way to encourage others to invest in our community is by setting personal example and encouragement without pressure. It is important to educate people of how United Way benefits our community; this alleviates the pressure and allows individuals to make an informed decision. For community recognition of your organization’s Leadership Giving members, it’s important for employers to send United Way the pledge forms or Leadership Giving cards that employees fill out. Then we can double-check to be sure all names are included, and we can keep mailing addresses and donor recognition preferences current.
18. Can you really expect low-wage workers to make a pledge?
Surprisingly, those who do not earn a lot often give more in proportion to their income than those with higher incomes. Maybe they are closer to basic needs and difficult times, or perhaps United Way services have made a difference to their children or other family members. No matter the size, every pledge or gift is important to United Way.
19. How can our company run a campaign when our people are never in the office?
Group meetings are not the only way to conduct a campaign. We need employers with large and small workforces, with traditional and non-traditional workplaces, to support our community-wide United Way effort. We will be creative in helping you plan the kind of campaign that suits your organization.
20. If you work in Greenwood and Abbeville counties and make a pledge at work, can you designate it to a United Way in a neighboring county where you live?
Yes, that is fine. And our United Way in turn receives some designations from nearby counties. It’s all for the good cause of helping our neighbors.
21. How long does an employee group meeting need to be?
Thirty minutes is ample time, and it can be less. If it takes too much time away from work or is tiresome, it’s too long. If you do not learn something new each year about community needs, it’s probably too short.
22. Does the United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville counties fund political parties, religious organizations or abortions?