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Frequently Asked Questions

What is United Way? Is it an airline?
United Way of Santa Rosa County is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose goal is to advance the common good in our community in two primary ways. First, we support local nonprofits who serve a variety of needs in the community; secon, we provide direct assistance through our own programs that serve the community. We also house the First Call for Help information and referral phoneline that matches individuals with agencies that can assist with their needs. Together, as a community united, we can make positive change in Santa Rosa County.

What programs does United Way run internally? What does United Way do other than fundraise?
United Way's second function is to provide services to the community that fill needs. The following are examples of some of our internal programs and initiatives. 
  • First Call for Help - This one-stop information and referral service helps to point callers int he direction of organizations or agencies who can assist them with needs ranging from houseing, employment, financial assistance, etc. 
  • Money Cents - An ongoing financial stability initiative that provides budgeting workshops and one-on-one interaction with adults and teens seeking a successful financial future. 
  • Day of Action - This is United Way's green volunteer day, where we invite members of the community to do something good for the environment. 
  • Cram the Van - Each year before school begins, United Way leads this school supply drive for kids of all ages. More than 1,600 children received school supplies in 2009. 
  • Day of Caring - Groups of volunteers are assigned projects for helping local residents and charities by taking on projects such as building wheelchair ramps, painting houses or making holiday cards for the indigent and elderly. 
  • Toys for Tots - Through our partnership with the Marine Corps Reserves, United Way helps harold in the holidays with the Toys for Tots holiday toy drive.
How does the annual campaign work?
United Way partners with businesses throughout the county to give their employees the opportunity to contribute to United Way, primarily though payroll deduction. Each company has its own internal Employee Campaign Coordinator and Loaned Executive as liaison between the company and United Way. Many businesses or their parent companies offer a corporate match or corporate donation to motivate employees to give. Last year, our workplace campaign along with other fundraising efforts totaled more than $320,000.
 
Why am I asked to give to United Way by my employer?
United Way has always enjoyed a strong partnership with businesses in the community we serve. Organizations that host a workplace campaign demonstrate to their employees as well as their customers that they are community minded. Giving through payroll deduction is easy and provides year-round satisfaction of contributing to the community.

Why should I give to United Way?
We believe that giving comes from the heart and want our contributors to follow their beliefs. Knowing that United Way supports a diverse group of services provided by our partner agencies is reassuring and fulfills the desire to help the many great needs in our community. The agencies go through a rigorous process to be included on the list of United Way of Santa Rosa Funded Partner Agencies.
 
Can I designate funds to a specific agency?
Yes. If you have been touched by one of our agencies, we encourage you to follow your heart. By designating with United Way, you know that the agency has earned their allocation through the application process. Be assured that United Way of Santa Rosa County DOES NOT reduce your pledge by deducting administrative and fundraising fees.
 
Who decides where the contributions collected go?
All contributors and noncontributors alike are invited to join our Funds Distribution Team, led by members of our volunteer board. This committee decides how much funding each agency will be allocated. 
During this process, each United Way agency applicant makes a thorough presentation to the panel of volunteers, and the services provided by each agency are reviewed and documented. Program allocations are based on effectiveness of services, the amount of undesignated contributions and identified needs in the community.
 
What is the difference between a funded partner agency and an affiliate agency?
A funded partner agency is an agency that has been affiliated with United Way for at least one year and has been approved for funding by the volunteer funds distribution team. Before an agency is approved, they must go through a rigorous application process. 
Affiliate agencies are agencies that do not make the funded partner list, but are still supported by United Way through promotional and in-kind services. After being an affiliate agency for one year, these agencies can apply to become funded partners. 
Although any agency may receive funding in any given year, no agency is guaranteed funding. This is due to the changing needs of the community and the funds distribution teams decision to base their decisions on community need. If a funded partner is not chosen to be funded for a particular year, that agency may still become an unfunded affiliate.
 
What is the difference between our local United Way and United Way Worldwide?
Our local United Way is the United Way of Santa Rosa County, based in Milton. It is a local, independent organization serving all of Santa Rosa County. All funding and policy decisions are made by volunteers who live and work in our community. No entity outside of our community makes decisions for the United Way of Santa Rosa County. 
United Way Worldwide, based in Alexandria, Virginia is a membership association for the 1,300 separate, independent United Ways across the country, and now worldwide. United Way of America does no fund programs - they are a national service and training center for all United Ways that want to use their services.
 
Does any money contributed go to United Way Worldwide?
Yes. One percent of all monies raised locally is used to purchase services from United Way Worldwide. This payment for services is not mandatory, but rather an issue carefully weight by our local volunteer leadership who feel the services received by United Way worldwide (i.e. national branding, NFL advertising, national market research, training, etc.) far outweigh the cost. Ninety-nine (99%) of the funds raised locally stay in Santa Rosa County.
 
Does United Way Worldwide set policy for local United Ways?
No. Each United Way is separate from one another an has its Board of Directors that make decisions about what is best for its community. Local volunteers who know their community also make funding decisions for local agencies.
 
Why do we need a United Way program? Doesn't the government take care of everyone in need with tax dollars?
Government programs provide most basic services, but there are many children and adults who need services the government cannot provide. That's why people give. They know that if we work together we can give a hand up to people in the local community who need a helping hand.
 
I never use any services, why should I give?
You're lucky, but no one is immune to natural disasters, misfortune, illness or human problems. It is very likely that a relative, coworker, friend or neighbor has been helped by United Way or its partners. When we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all. In other words, everyone benefits from a healthy community where people's needs are being met. Many individuals and families are using United Way services without realizing it. The American Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and YMCA are just a few of our partner agencies. 
One in four people in Santa Rosa County have benefited from services provided United Way and its partners. That's 25% of the local population.
 
What is a loaned executive? Do they receive commission?
Our Loaned Executives (LE's) are volunteers from the community who give their valuable time and talent to assist us with the campaign. They are your key to connecting you with whatever you need to run a successful fundraising campaign from brochures to speakers to skit ideas! Each LE is responsible for coordinating 8-10 business accounts. LE's complete training and benefit from this through networking and polishing their professional skills. Being a loaned executive is a great resume builder. 
Loaned executives do not receive commission... nor do they make loans. They volunteer their time for the cause.
 
I don't trust United Way because of the scandal a few years ago.
The 1993 incident was on the national level, United Way of America. All problems have been resolved on the national level. Keep in mind that United Way of America is a support system for our local United Way. They in no way govern our decisions or budget. Our local volunteer board makes all decisions regarding our operations and finances.
 
How do I claim my payroll deduction contribution on my taxes?
The IRS has recently revised the recordkeeping requirements for contributions made to charities via payroll deduction. Under the revised guidelines, employees need to have both documentation of the amounts that have been contributed (pay stubs, W-2 form, or other document furnished by the employer) as well as written documentation from the recipient organizations (or someone directed by the recipient organization) that identifies the recipient of the contribution. The best way for donors to accomplish this is to keep their copy of the pledge card for their records.