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Frequently Asked Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT UNITED WAY

We’re Glad You Asked That!

We’re glad when donors want to know more about the United Way of Addison County. Here are some questions that we are asked fairly often. You have other questions and we want to answer them. Call (802) 388-7189 with questions or email us at info@unitedwayaddisoncounty.org.

Q: What is the United Way of Addison County?
Q: What does the United Way of Addison County do?
Q: Who runs the United Way?
Q: How much did the United Way Community Campaign raise last year?
Q: How much of my contribution goes to local programs?
Q: Why should I trust United Way?
Q: How are funding decisions made?
Q: Who is eligible for funding?
Q: Is United Way of Addison County different from United Way Worldwide?
Q: Why should I give to the Community Campaign?
Q: I want my gift to go to a specific service provider. Why should I go through United Way to do that?
Q: I can’t afford to give to United Way.
Q: Can I designate my gift to my home town United Way if I work in Addison County, but live elsewhere?
Q: Why do United Way service providers conduct their own fund-raising campaigns too?
Q: There are so many charities these days. What makes United Way different?
Q: How much goes to overhead costs?
Q: My spouse gives at work. Why should I give?
Q: Doesn’t giving to my church cover the same things?
Q: Can United Way help me in other ways?
Q: Who benefits from my gift?
Q: Even though United Way doesn’t give direct assistance, how does it help the community in time of a disaster or flood?
Q: There’s still talk about the national United Way scandal more than a decade ago and problems at other United Ways across the country. I wonder about giving to such an organization….
Q: Do United Way agencies only serve poor people?
Q: How can I find out more about the United Way?

 

Q: What is the United Way of Addison County?
A: The United Way of Addison County is a non-profit organization whose mission is to build community and mobilize resources. In 1968, the Cornwall United Fund became the United Fund of Addison County. And in 1969, the United Fund received nonprofit status. It wasn’t until 1974 that the name was changed to United Way of Addison County. It has served the community for more than four decades by holding an annual community fundraising drive and using those resources and others funding to support local health and human services programs and initiatives in Addison County. It also offers the United Way Volunteer Center which matches volunteer needs with human resources of time, talent and expertise in Addison County.

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Q: What does the United Way of Addison County do?
A: We envision a community that is committed to providing opportunity for everyone to reach their full potential. The goal of the United Way of Addison County is to impact individual lives and our community for positive change by focusing on health, education and financial stability. We identify countywide community needs, develop strategies to meet those needs, raise funds to support or implement those strategies and measure the results of those investments.

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Q: Who runs the United Way?
A: United Way is a volunteer-driven organization. Its Board of Directors is composed of knowledgeable community leaders. The Board establishes policy and allocates resources to assure that United Way is properly managed. The United Way of Addison County Executive Director is Kate McGowan, who has led the organization since 2005.

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Q: How much did the United Way Community Campaign raise last year?
A: The 2014-15 Community Campaign raised $682,297 reflecting broad support for the leadership, year-round collaboration and volunteer work United Way of Addison County is known for.

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Q: How much of my contribution goes to local programs?
A: Approximately eighty five percent of every dollar donated to United Way’s Community Campaign directly supports local programs, initiatives and collaborations in the communities we serve. Approximately 15 percent is spent on operating and fundraising costs, well below the national Better Business Bureau average of 35 percent. Membership dues for United Way Worldwide are 1% of the current revenues to support national initiatives, public policy efforts, development of training and best practices, and member services to 1,100 United Ways across the country.

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Q: Why should I trust United Way?
A: United Way has been a trusted member of the community for 46 years. Program funding decisions are carefully reviewed by a volunteer committee (Community Impact Funding Teams) and the Board of Directors and all financial records are audited annually by an independent accounting firm and available for public review.

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Q: How are funding decisions made?
A: Through the United Way Community Impact Funding process. By making an undesignated gift to United Way, you entrust your contribution to 15 or more knowledgeable fund distribution volunteers who take their jobs very seriously. After visiting agencies, reviewing funding requests and examining community needs, recommendations are made to the United Way Board of Directors. Upon approval, dollars are distributed to specific programs at United Way member agencies addressing the most pressing needs. United Way grantees and partners must meet strict standards of accountability in order to be considered for funding.

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Q: Who is eligible for funding?
Any non-profit 501(c))(3) who does work in Addison County and addresses needs that fall under our impact areas (health, education and financial stability) may apply for funding through our Community Impact Funding process.
We also fund strategic partnerships and collaborations through our budgeting process. Examples include: VT 2-1-1 an information and referral program, My Free Taxes program, Everybody Wins, Five Town Drug and Safety Coalition.
Donor designations greater than $52 are paid to any 501(c)(3) who provides documentation of their non-profit status and the federally required Patriot Act Compliance forms.

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Q: Is United Way of Addison County different from United Way Worldwide?
A: Yes, United Way Worldwide is trade association of 1,200 independent United Ways throughout the country. It has its own board and volunteers and it makes no policies for United Way of Addison County. It does set membership criteria and standards of excellence for local United Ways related to financial management and branding. They also assist in building relationships with national companies and organizations, researching best practices, and set the public policy agenda for the network.

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Q: Why should I give to the Community Campaign?
A: If you want your gift to have the greatest possible impact, you should select the community fund choice when you make your United Way pledge. A gift to the Community Campaign Fund offers you a chance to join thousands of other people who are tackling our community’s toughest human care problems, knowing the programs you’re supporting get the best results. There is simply no other organization or process which takes on the challenge of planning, coordinating and helping people succeed the way United Way does. We bring people together to agree on what needs to be done, decide how to do it, and then hold ourselves accountable for results.

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Q: I want my gift to go to a specific service provider. Why should I go through United Way to do that?
A: United Way is the only way you can give to the entire community. So, while supporting a single organization is certainly a choice you can make, please also consider making a contribution to the community campaign fund. Some individuals do prefer to give directly to a particular agency. In fact, the United Way has a designation policy that is responsive to such donor wishes. United Way’s combined fundraising efforts allow area agencies to focus more time on their primary purpose - helping people. To keep overall administrative costs down, United Way does charge a 6% fee to cover direct processing costs and require a minimum $52 donation to each agency or United Way outside the United Way of Addison County. Funds that are donor-directed do not receive program or fiscal oversight from United Way.

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Q: I can’t afford to give to United Way.
A: Making ends meet is a concern for many of us. However, when you give to United Way, you are helping those who simply cannot make ends meet. You are helping the jobless, the elderly, the homeless and others who need you more than you can imagine. You should know that every person’s gift makes an impact and together they can add up to a life-changing difference for someone in need. By using payroll deduction, you can direct a small amount of money from each paycheck to help others. We also offer Pay With My Bank for those who do not have the option of payroll deduction. It works in the same way- directing small amounts of money from your checking/savings account monthly.

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Q: Can I designate my gift to my home town United Way if I work in Addison County, but live elsewhere?
A: Sure! United Way of Addison County is happy to pass your designations to other United Ways or agencies, in your home town. Including Addison County, there are nine United Ways serving Vermont. Be assured, all of your gift will go to the community you choose. By mutual agreement, there is no designation fees charged for donor designations passed along to United Ways in Vermont.

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Q: Why do United Way service providers conduct their own fund-raising campaigns too?
A: Strong not-for-profits diversify their funding so they don’t have to rely on just one source. United Way service providers are no exception. Though people in Addison County are very generous, funds raised through United Way’s campaign are not enough to address all human care needs in Addison County and our grants do not completely fund any organization or program that we work with.

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Q: There are so many charities these days. What makes United Way different?
A: United Way is a leader and catalyst for change in how Addison County cares. In our community, United Way looks for approaches that haven’t been taken and dynamic ways to respond to problems that no single agency, no single donor, no one volunteer and no one sector of our community can do alone. Some recent examples of successful collaborations include bringing together programs and people to reduce truancy, address drug addiction, alleviate the housing crisis, care for those with mental illness, and make affordable daycare available to more people.

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Q: How much goes to overhead costs?
A: Due to careful cost-cutting and the help of hundreds of volunteers, United Way of Addison County’s overhead ranges between 12 and 18% in any given year. According to the Better Business Bureau, charity overhead of less than 35% is considered acceptable. We appreciate the trust our donors place in us to use their dollars wisely and we also recognize that there are costs associated with running this business well.

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Q: My spouse gives at work. Why should I give?
A: If your spouse or partner supports the United Way, that’s great. Your gift is just as important. Contributions based on your total family income help close the gap of unmet service needs in Addison County. Additionally, we recognize couples who give $1,000 or more annually as Leadership Circle members, and $1250 as Robert Frost Society members, through special events and publications.

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Q: Doesn’t giving to my church cover the same things?
A: Donations to your faith community is one important part of charitable giving. Giving to United Way’s Community Campaign is another, with its special focus on the human care needs of all the people in our community.

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Q: Can United Way help me in other ways?
A: United Way’s Volunteer Center offers an easy way to match your time, skills and expertise with volunteer opportunities in Addison County and north central Vermont. Last year, 941 people volunteered both at Days of Caring and at our local non-profit agencies. United Way is also home to RSVP and Foster Grandparent Program, offering volunteer opportunities for older persons in a variety of settings. The Volunteer Connection works with individuals not meeting RSVP’s age criteria, groups, youth and businesses to foster volunteerism. United Way of Addison County offers free tax assistance to seniors through the AARP tax Program and qualified residents through the FAST TAX Program. United Way can support you when you are looking for services for yourself, family members or friends. Dial 2-1-1 to connect to an Information and Referral Specialist.

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Q: Who benefits from my gift?
A: In a word - EVERYONE. Your neighbors, co-workers, even your own family may have used United Way-funded services. Emergency food, shelter and other programs for the needy are just the beginning. If you have a child in an after-school program or at one our three teen centers, or an elderly parent served by Elderly Services, you have benefited. There are countless examples of people touched by United Ways that add up to creating a healthy, vibrant, caring environment that serves individuals, businesses and social and civic organizations.

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Q: Even though United Way doesn’t give direct assistance, how does it help the community in time of a disaster or flood?
A: If disaster strikes locally, our 2-1-1 system is prepared to immediately begin taking phone calls to help people get to safety, collect data to identify the breadth and depth of damage and need, and begin to refer folks to the local disaster teams and American Red Cross immediate
response programs. Once the long term recovery efforts begin, United Way works with local programs to ensure continuation of all the essential services needed to bring the community back to stability.

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Q: There’s still talk about the national United Way scandal more than a decade ago and problems at other United Ways across the country. I wonder about giving to such an organization….
A: No local staff or volunteer in Addison County had anything to do with the wrongdoing at the national trade organization more than a decade ago. United Way of Addison County is a separate, local organization from the one that came under fire in 1992 for fraud committed by its president. He has since been convicted and served a prison term. United Way Worldwide worked with congress in the subsequent years to help create standards for non-profit governance to help avoid such situations from happening again in the future. They also developed a more rigorous system of membership criteria, reporting and review that each local United Way must adhere to. United Way of Addison County has one of the best records locally for effective, efficient operations and charitable giving.

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Q: Do United Way agencies only serve poor people?
A: Agencies and programs receiving United Way funding serve not only low-income families, but offer programs all people use. For instance, if your child has attended The Bristol Family Center, Addison County Parent Child Center, Mary Johnson Children’s Center or Otter Creek Child Center, a family member has received counseling at the Counseling Service of Addison County or ever ridden the ACTR bus, you have taken part in a United Way program. And even if your family never has to call on the John Graham Shelter, HOPE, or WomenSafe, isn’t it a good feeling knowing they will be there if you need them?
We recently worked with the Middlebury College Economics Department who help analyze the financial stability of Addison County residents. We determined that over 45% of our residents cannot consistently cover the costs associated with a basic needs budget adjusted to include childcare, dental care and some savings. We are beginning to prioritize programs and initiatives that promote self-sufficiency and financial stability for low and moderate income earners.

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Q: How can I find out more about the United Way?
A: Visit United Way of Addison County’s website at www.unitedwayaddisoncounty.org or call us at 802-388-7189.

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