Q: What is the difference between the River Region United Way and the United Way of America?
A: United Way of America is a membership association for independent United Ways across the country. It is a service and training center for United Ways who use their services. The River Region United Way is an independent organization based in Montgomery, Alabama serving Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon and Montgomery counties.
Q: Does United Way of America set policy for local United Ways?
A: No. Each United Way is separate from one another and has its own Board of Directors that makes decisions about what is best for their community. Local volunteers who know their community also make all funding decisions for local agencies.
Q: How many agencies does United Way fund?
A: The answer is 46. But there’s a different way to look at this question. Rather than fund agencies per se, United Way funds a network of programs and initiatives which are working together to help individuals, families, and neighborhoods thrive.
Q: Has the economy affected how much money United Way gives to agencies?
A: The downturn in the economy has certainly affected the needs of our partner agencies, with many of them reporting more client requests for help than ever before. The River Region United Way, by continuing to minimize its operating costs, fine-tune its funding process, and implement new fundraising strategies, has been able to provide, in most cases, level funding to its partner agencies since 2009.
Q: How is United Way doing, given the state of our economy?
A: There are still many opportunities. While some industries are being affected by the downturn in the economy, there are others that are growing. What we are seeing is that there are many opportunities for companies and their employees to step up in a big way. If your company has never run a campaign before, we would welcome the opportunity to help you do that. Whether a company is large, small or somewhere in between, every campaign effort contributes to the greater good of our community.
Q: Why should I give in a tough economy?
A: A success story for anyone in the River Region is a success story for all of us. A tough economy or recession hits all of us - some directly and some indirectly. Many of us have cut back our expenses. These times for some are an inconvenience; for others it is a tragedy. We know that needs are increasing for so many individuals and families, stretching the limits of our local nonprofit community services network. It is critical that those of us who can support the community do so. Living united means helping our neighbors so we all enjoy a better quality of life. And what we keep hearing is that people want to help.
Q: In these tough economic times, how can I help if I have fewer resources to give a financial gift?
A: People really want to help where they can and the River Region United Way is pleased to offer several ways to do so. Not only do donors have the option to GIVE, they can also ADVOCATE or VOLUNTEER to make a difference. One of the easiest ways to LIVE UNITED is to be an advocate for our work in the community. Whether you forward our newsletter to colleagues and friends or simply engage others in conversation about the impact our funded programs are making, you are making a difference. So many people who need help have never had to ask for it before and they don’t know where to turn. Be ready to share information when you can.
Q: How can I GIVE to United Way?
A: Individuals can give through employer payroll deduction, or through individual gifts, or online contributions. There are also opportunities for corporate giving, grants/sponsorships, and planned giving. Please contact our Resource Development staff at 334.323.2542 for details.
Q: How can I ADVOCATE for United Way?
A: There are many different ways to advocate:
• Tell your friends and colleagues how your investment of time and/or dollars is helping the United Way make an impact in the community.
• Forward United Way e-mail communications to colleagues and friends.
• Share the success stories featured in our online newsletter.
• Share videos from our website or YouTube channel.
• Get involved with our public policy agenda and contact your elected officials.
• Get a LIVE UNITED t-shirt and wear it when you’re out and about.
• Tell others how you LIVE UNITED!
Q: How can I VOLUNTEER for United Way?
A: There are several ways to volunteer:
• Volunteer in a leadership role – there are numerous committees and working groups that support United Way with expertise and strategies.
• Participate as a Loaned Executive during the annual campaign and contribute your time and talent to assist our fundraising efforts.
• Contact HandsOn River Region and ask about local opportunities at www.handsonriverregion.org.
Q: What if I feel forced to give at my workplace?
A: In rare instances, people express unhappiness about being “forced to give” to the United Way fundraising campaign. Generally, the complaint centers on a sense of coercion felt at the workplace. In other words, employees feel they must give to United Way to keep their employers happy, get a promotion, or even, in very extreme cases, to keep their jobs.
The River Region United Way is adamantly opposed to coercion in any form, and does not endorse any pressuring practices in the workplace. We provide employers with a comprehensive communications package so donors can make voluntary giving decisions. We appreciate your feedback as a donor, so if you feel pressured to give, please contact Alicia Schneider, V.P. of Resource Development at the River Region United Way at 334.323.2502.
Q: What is the value of giving to United Way if I am just passing my donation through to another agency?
A: Most employees have an opportunity to give through payroll deduction and enjoy being a part of their company’s corporate giving campaign. There is value in this participation regardless of where the gift is directed. Payroll deduction makes it easy and convenient for a donor to give a small portion over time, adding up over the year for big impact in the community.
Q: How do I know my donation gets to the intended agency? What will donors receive to communicate this?
A: The River Region United Way sends electronic and other communications to those donors who have given us their home address or e-mail address AND made a contribution. If you donate through United Way to an affiliate agency, we will send you a gift confirmation after we receive your company’s campaign report. This lets you know we received your gift and that your dollars were directed to the agency you specified. If you are not receiving any reports, let us know by sending the contact information to us by calling 334.323.2502.
Q: Who decides where the money goes?
A: Our United Way makes funding decisions based on local priorities. United Way supports agencies and programs that work in this community to strengthen families and individuals.
Last year, over 100 volunteers representing over 60 local businesses and organizations participated in the allocations process. Experienced volunteers assessed community needs and determined how to distribute funds so that donors know their money is battling the most pressing issues and reaching people who need it most.
Q: How do I know the money I give to the River Region United Way is being used effectively?
A: Local volunteers are involved in every phase of our United Way operations. For example, professionals from the field of finance guide the financial planning and accountability for this local United Way. They report regularly to the local board of trustees to provide updates on the financial status of the River Region United Way. In addition, we undergo a complete, independent financial audit annually by a local accounting firm. The most recent financial audit is available as part of our Annual Report and can be found here.