Frequently Asked Questions
United Way’s Goals and Impact
GOAL: Nashville’s children enter kindergarten ready for success.
• UWMN is ensuring each year that 1,400 pre-school children in poverty enter school ready to learn through Read to Succeed and parent outreach programs. Read to Succeed has a 99.4% success rate!
GOAL: School-aged children in 11 of Nashville’s lowest performing schools will successfully make the transition from youth to adulthood.
• UWMN is helping 4,300 middle school children avoid becoming high school dropouts.
GOAL: Low-income adults in Davidson County are able to earn a sustaining wage and build financial assets for their future.
• UWMN is helping 2,500 adults achieve this goal. Additionally, 102,347 Davidson County residents found resources for help through United Way. 2-1-1, Middle Tennessee’s referral help line. UWMN has also garnered federal refunds of more than $10 million for working families.
GOAL: Nashville’s most vulnerable residents experience improved health and well-being
• Because of UWMN, over 1,200 low-income seniors remain in their homes with preventative health screenings, social activities, home visits, and other support.
GOAL: Some of Nashville’s most at-risk neighborhoods are improved through groups organized to focus on quality of life and safety issues.
• UWMN’s 13 Family Resource Centers serve 28,000 low-income residents annually.
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 your United Way staff person or call our office at 615-255-8501 for details.
There are many different ways to advocate:
- Tell your friends and colleagues how your investment of time and/or dollars is helping United Way’s 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.
- Ask for a LIVE UNITED t-shirt and wear it when you’re out and about.
- Tell others how you LIVE UNITED!
One of the easiest ways to volunteer is through a Day of Action:
• Check our website for hands-on Day of Action volunteer opportunities that support our agency partners and initiatives through various supply drives, sort-a-thons, deliveries, and more. Want to see what these activities look like? Visit our gallery at www.flickr.com/uwnashville to see photos from past Days of Action.
There are several other opportunities to volunteer with United Way:
• Volunteer in a leadership role – there are numerous committees and teams that support United Way with expertise and strategies.
• Participate on a Volunteer Review Team (making investment decisions for United Way and monitoring partner agencies’ results with those investments)
• Sign up to be a VITA site volunteer. These volunteers help working families with free income tax preparation services at sites all across town.
United Way of Metropolitan Nashville will email volunteer opportunities throughout the year to all donors for whom we have an email address. We also post information about these opportunities to our website. You can sign up for these newsletters on our website, www.unitedwaynashville.org.
A success story for anyone in Nashville 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 and that increase is 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.
People really want to help where they can, and 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. Two good resources are 2-1-1, Middle Tennessee’s community services referral help line and Tools for Tough Times, a set of resources dedicated to helping anyone in Nashville who might need a helping hand during the current economic situation. You can find it at Tools for Tough Times. Volunteering is also a great way to give back to the community - by investing your time instead of money! Please visit Upcoming Days of Action for upcoming opportunities that benefit United Way partner agencies and initiatives.
The answer is 63. 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. During 2009-2010 we are funding 133 programs within 63 agencies, plus 13 Family Resource Centers. We work with many partners including Metro schools, neighborhood associations, non-profit agency programs, community partnerships, churches, and congregations.
In a few instances, people express unhappiness about being “forced to give” to the United Way fund-raising 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.
United Way response:
United Way of Metropolitan Nashville is adamantly opposed to coercion in any form, and does not endorse any pressuring practices in the workplace. United Way provides employers with a comprehensive communications package so donors can make voluntary giving decisions.
If pressured to give:
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. UWMN, 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 for 2009 - 2010.
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.
Yes. Through its annual funding process, United Way financially supports many partner agency programs that provide numerous emergency services. These services include help with food, shelter, clothing, transportation, utilities, medical needs, victim support, crisis counseling and financial assistance. Individuals can also access a database of more than 7,000 programs through referrals given by United Way 2-1-1, Middle Tennessee’s community resources help line which United Way launched in 2004. Additionally, United Way convenes the local board of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) and administers the distribution of these federal funds to local nonprofit organizations to supplement emergency food and shelter programs. For a more complete description of agency services, please visit our website at unitedwaynashville.org.
Many people in Middle Tennessee live in one county and work in another. United Way of Metropolitan Nashville invests in programs that serve those who live, work, or have a family member who works in Davidson County. It is often easier to give where you work, especially if your employer makes payroll deduction available. Through United Way, you can choose, if you wish, to designate your gift to a particular county. On the pledge card, simply choose “designate to an agency” and specify which health and human services organization or United Way should receive your gift.
United Way only funds health and human service programs within church-affiliated agencies. It does not fund any religious activities of the organization. Agency programs are available to anyone regardless of race, creed or religion.
Partner agency programs: Prior to the beginning of each new funding cycle, United Way issues a Request for Proposal (RFP) to which agencies apply. In order to receive funding, programs go through an interview and review process by volunteers to show that they meet the requirements set forth in the RFP.
Non-partner agencies: Many local health and human service agencies do receive United Way funding when individual donors specify that they want their gift directed to a particular agency. Prior to each year’s campaign, non-partner agencies must apply for eligibility; if they meet the criteria (including being a local health and human services 501(c) (3) nonprofit or another United Way) then they are entered into our eligibility list for donors to select from and we will pass donor-specified funding on to them.
The concept behind United Way is that health and human services should be available to anyone who needs them. Because people who need help are from various income levels, many programs supported by United Way charge on a sliding fee scale that allows clients to pay based on their ability. That fee helps to subsidize the services for those who cannot afford to pay. For example, although United Way-funded Interfaith Dental Clinic charges customers 20% of the service cost (i.e. $22 for a filling), they discuss a variety of payment options with their patients. While no one is ever denied service because they cannot afford it, the agency feels that paying even a small amount adds value to the service and encourages patients to be more committed to preventative care.
United Way helps fund programs for those who cannot afford services. For example, United Way funds agency programs at YMCA to allow low-income and underprivileged youth to participate in the recreational, academic and character-building activities offered by these agencies.
United Way of Metropolitan Nashville minimizes costs to give donor dollars the greatest community impact. In 2008, operational costs and administrative expenses reflected trends of the last decade, with costs holding steady at 15% or less; the average over the last four years was less than 14%.
Our overhead is well below the national average: The Better Business Bureau and National Charities Information Bureau guidelines suggest fundraising costs should not exceed 35% and total fundraising and administrative costs should not exceed 50% of total income.
Another way to think about overhead costs is to consider the ROI, or return on investment, that United Way’s support brings to the community:
• For every $1 invested in early childhood education, $17 is returned to the community.
• 232 adults receiving a GED equals $1.7 million in increased income.
• 94% of teen mothers in UWMN programs offering pre-natal care and academic support will earn a high school degree.
• In Nashville’s poorest neighborhoods, 28,000 residents can access services that help them overcome poverty and other barriers to a stable life thanks to a United Way-supported Family Resource Center.
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 also allows for a donor to give a small portion over time that adds up over the year for big impact in the community.
You will receive a receipt from UWMN if you made any single payment of at least $250. However, if you made your gift through payroll deductions, a receipt is not necessary. (A payroll deduction gift goes through your employer, who then makes monthly or bi-monthly payments to United Way on behalf of all of its employees.) Should you need a receipt for itemized tax purposes, you can use a copy of your pledge card and your December 31 pay stub or your W-2 if your employer shows that information.
Local volunteers are involved in every phase of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s 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 United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. In addition, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville undergoes a complete, independent financial audit annually by a local accounting firm. The most recent financial audit is available on our Web site, unitedwaynashville.org or by calling 615-255-8501 to receive a copy.
If you want to know the results from your specified organization and what they are doing with your gift that we passed on to them please contact that organization directly. They may have newsletters or other communications through which they share results with donors.
Our donor newsletter highlights funded partner agency programs and client success stories throughout the year. A donor may also visit our Web site to view results. You can also view our Web site at unitedwaynashville.org/programs for a full listing of partner agency programs funded through United way’s outcome-based investment process. We are committed to reporting the impact of a donor’s investment and being trusted stewards of those dollars.
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