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Frequently Asked Questions

What is United Way? 

United Way of Santa Rosa County is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that operates autonomously under the standards and branding of United Way Worldwide. Our 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 through annual workplace campaigns; second, we operate the First Call for Help information and referral hotline to match individuals with agencies that can provide assistance in times of need. When funds are available or if awarded grant funding, at times we provide direct assistance through our own programs that serve the community. Together, as a united community, we make positive impacts in Santa Rosa County.

Some past and present of our internal programs and initiatives include:

  • First Call for Help This one-stop information and referral service helps to point callers in the direction of organizations or agencies that can assist them with needs ranging from housing, employment, financial assistance, etc. 
  • MyFreeTaxes.com File your taxes for free if you make under $64,000 per year.
  • MySmartMoney.com An ongoing financial stability initiative that provides online 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 students of all grade levels. Every student in need who applies for supplies receives a backpack full of supplies.
  • Day of Caring Groups of volunteers are assigned projects to assist local residents and charities by taking on projects such as building wheelchair ramps, painting houses, making holiday cards for the indigent and elderly, and more.

How does the annual campaign work?

United Way partners with businesses throughout the Santa Rosa to give employees an opportunity to contribute to United Way, primarily though payroll deduction. Each company has its own internal Employee Campaign Coordinator between the company and United Way. Many businesses or their foundations or parent companies offer a corporate match or corporate donation to help motivate employees to give. 

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. One dollar can provide five to seven meals. It costs $125 per hour to provide to a child who has experienced abuse.

Helping to support United Way ensures that the organization will be there should you, a family member, friend, neighbor or coworker need assistance. 

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 health, education, and income stability services provided by our partner agencies is reassuring. Giving fulfills the desire to help the many of the great needs in our community. All United Way funded agencies go through a rigorous screening process to be included on the list of funding recipients.
 
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 strict funding application and interview process. Be assured that United Way of Santa Rosa County DOES NOT reduce your pledge by deducting administrative and fundraising fees, as most other United Ways choose to do.
 
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 of directors. This independent committee approves the agencies and then decides how much funding each 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 Santa Rosa.
 
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 in a follwoing year. This is due to the changing needs of Santa Rosa and the funds distribution team's final recommendations 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 the membership association for the 1,800 separate, independent United Ways located in 40 countries and territories.
 
Does any money contributed go to United Way Worldwide?
 
Yes. a small percentage of all monies raised locally is used to compensate the services our United Way receives from United Way Worldwide. This payment for services is not mandatory, but rather an issue carefully considered by our board of directors that feel the services received by United Way worldwide (i.e. national branding, NFL advertising, photography, artwork, videos, national market research, training, etc.) far outweigh the cost. A very large percentage of the funds raised for Santa Rosa, remain in our county.
 
Does United Way Worldwide set policy for local United Ways?
 
No. Each United Way is completely separate from one another and each is governed by its board of directors that make decisions about what is best for their own communities. 
 
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 here in Santa Rosa, there are many children and adults who need services the government cannot provide. That's why our people give. They know that if we work together we can give a hand up to people in Santa Rosa who need a helping hand.
 
I never use any services, why should I give?
 
You're lucky, but none of us are 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. Everyone benefits from a healthy community where people's needs are being met. Many individuals and families are using United Way services without evenrealizing it. The American Red Cross, YMCA in Navarre and Santa Rosa Kids' House 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 Santa Rosa.
 
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 help with campaigning and account services. 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 and some companies 'lend' us their employees during their business hours.
 
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. Please consult your tax advisor for current and specific information that is relative to your individual situation.