FAQ's

Common United Way Questions, Objections & Answers

 

 

Why donate to United Way of Southeast Mississippi?

United Way of Southeast Mississippi (UWSEMS) addresses critical needs in Forrest, Lamar, Marion and Perry counties. United Way provides funds to local, partnering agencies and operates its own programs in four impact areas: education, financial stability, health and support services.  

 

Why shouldn’t I just give directly to the agencies?

UWSEMS appreciates and encourages any and all charitable giving, but we do believe there are benefits to giving through United Way. By giving to United Way of Southeast Mississippi, you can help 25 community investment partners and programs with ONE donation. It is an effective, efficient way to help the most people. You are probably a busy person who does not have time to follow up on the impact of your donation.  United Way does that for you. United Way holds its partners accountable throughout the year to make sure its funding (your donation) is being used to achieve results. 

 

Why does United Way support some agencies but not others?  

United Way funds local nonprofit human service agencies in the areas of education, financial stability, health and support services.  In some cases, agencies do not receive United Way funding because of their national organization’s policies, because they do not meet all of United Way’s admission standards or because their mission and purpose do not align with United Way’s goals.  

 

How much of what I give actually reaches the local agencies?  Do you spend a lot on administrative costs?

According to United Way of Southeast Mississippi’s latest IRS reporting, only 14% of our expenses were used for administrative costs, such as campaign materials; and 86% went to agencies and programs. This is almost HALF of the Better Business Bureau’s recommendation that non-profits have 35% administrative costs. Keep in mind; the administrative expenses are used to keep United Way of Southeast Mississippi and its agencies efficient and accountable. 

 

Does most of my money go to a national organization somewhere?  

No. The money that is raised in Forrest, Lamar, Perry and Marion counties stays in Forrest, Lamar, Perry and Marion counties.  Only 1% of the money raised in the annual campaign goes to United Way Worldwide, and this is not for any national causes or programs. The small fee is paid, so we may have access to global campaigns and use the worldwide logo, website, supplies, etc. 

 

 

Is my money just a handout to people who refuse to help themselves?  

No. Many of the problems that United Way addresses know no social or economic boundaries. Things like natural disasters and physical or mental disabilities can affect anyone. Thanks to your contributions, if you or anyone you know is faced with a problem like this, United Way and its partners are there to help. 

 

I prefer to give to my favorite charity instead of United Way.  

You may designate your United Way gift to a qualified 501(c) (3) charity. However, remember that if everyone designates his or her donation to a favorite charity, a few large agencies might prosper while lesser-known but equally important services would suffer or be eliminated. United Way volunteers evaluate community needs and allocate funds based on agency success. We feel this process is most effective, but designated gifts will be accepted and honored according to United Way’s designation policies. 

 

I already give to my church.  Why should I give to United Way?  

Most of us have obligations to our faith, but obligations shouldn’t stop there. We also should think about the community where we live and work. Remember, numerous services provided by United Way community investment partners are not available through religious organizations.

 

I can't afford to give to United Way.

United Way appreciates any gift, no matter the amount. It all adds up to make a difference in someone’s life.  What’s important to United Way is participation. If everyone gives and LIVES UNITED, it enhances the community for all of us.  Nevertheless, if a person asks for a suggested guideline for giving, many companies still recommend care share (formerly fair share) giving, which is only one hour’s pay per month.

 

How are funds distributed?  

With the greatest of care. It’s not easy to become a United Way funded program. To receive United Way funds, agencies must prove that they are doing the best possible job of meeting significant community needs in one of our priority areas of education, financial stability, health or support services. Volunteers analyze each budget request, visit with each agency and review every program. They investigate each agency’s performance, administration and financial management as well as its responsiveness to community needs.  

 

Who decides where the money goes?  

Volunteers do--people like you, who care about our community and its needs. Each year volunteers from our local area who make up the funds distribution committee evaluate programs on your behalf. They are as careful with your United Way contribution as you would be. They are not only volunteers, but they are also contributors just like you. They want to find the most effective ways to use their donations.

 

How do I know my donation is going where it’s needed?  

United Way of Southeast Mississippi’s funds distribution committee diligently reviews how our partners use their United Way allocations. Sometimes United Way only funds certain programs of an agency. For instance, with Salvation Army, United Way of Southeast Mississippi only funds the Boys and Girls Club. This program helps kids and a teen develop essential skills, provides a safe place to learn, play and grow along with supportive relationships with caring mentors. 

 

Does United Way support Planned Parenthood?  

No. United Way of Southeast Mississippi has never funded Planned Parenthood. In fact, United Way of Southeast Mississippi’s policy is to NOT fund agencies promoting either side of the abortion issue (pro- or anti-).  Each United Way across the country is separate, governed by a local board of directors and funds programs local to its area. We have no connection to agencies funded by United Way in other parts of the country. United Way of Southeast Mississippi only funds programs in Forrest, Lamar, Perry and Marion counties, and Planned Parenthood is not one of them.