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Frequently Asked Questions

How much of my contribution stays local?

99 cents out of every dollar stays right here in Erie County, helping to improve the lives of over 100,000 people in our community every year. United Way is focused on advancing the common good in Erie County by creating opportunities for everyone in the areas of Education, Income and Health.

Why should I support United Way instead of giving directly to other agencies?

The stability and strength of our community depends on our ability to meet people’s needs and to encourage their self-sufficiency. The scope of problems such as substance abuse, illiteracy and homelessness is so great that no one agency can solve them alone. That’s why the best investment in our community is an investment made through United Way. Through United Way, we can mobilize many individuals, agencies and resources to tackle some of our community’s toughest problems. Partnerships with other private and public funders ensures that our efforts complement one another. By working together, we can leverage our resources, focus them where they are most needed and measure their impact.

United Way:

  • identifies changing community needs, establishes priorities and funds programs.

  • cuts fund-raising costs through a united campaign.

  • offers contributors the convenience of payroll deduction.

  • provides information about human services and helps people find the services they need.

How much of my contribution will go to support human services?

Because it is largely supported by volunteers, United Way incurs extremely low overhead costs. 85 cents out of every dollar raised goes to support programs and services that improve lives right here in Erie County. Also, United Way of Erie County does not pay indirect costs on any of the projects it funds. United Way is recognized as one of the most effective, cost-efficient human service organizations.

How do I know that the money I contribute really goes to providing services?

United Way is held accountable for the money it raises by a group of informed community volunteers who form the board and citizen review committees. These volunteers allocate money based on agency and community needs to make sure that designated funds are distributed according to contributors’ wishes. United Way strictly adheres to stringent standards of accounting and financial reporting which govern the fiscal affairs of voluntary health and human service organizations. Click here to view a copy of our most recent complete audited financial report.

May I designate my gift to a specific agency? Who decides what agencies receive funding?

While you may designate your gift to a specific nonprofit health and human service organization, we strongly encourage you to consider the benefits of pooling your contribution with the thousands of other United Way donors in Erie County who are making a real difference in our community.

Experienced volunteers who are knowledgeable about local needs monitor agencies and ensure that undesignated United Way contributions are well spent. These volunteers study the impact of each agency’s services on community needs. They review agency budgets and funding requests and make sure that agencies are well managed, have an annual independent financial audit, and maintain a policy of non-discrimination. Your United Way contribution is a guaranteed investment in improving the lives of your family, friends, and neighbors right here in Erie County.

Why aren’t all organizations included in United Way?

United Way operates on behalf of the residents of Erie County, and our commitment is to invest your United Way donations into the most highly performing collaborative programs, initiatives and movements meeting the most pressing community needs.

Some organizations cannot meet United Way funding requirements, while others follow national policies requiring them to operate independently. Still others are not admitted because their programs closely resemble or duplicate existing programs, or they cannot consistently demonstrate significant and measurable improvement and outcomes in the lives of their clients.

With limited resources at our disposal, it would be impossible to effectively support all of the hundreds of nonprofit organizations in Erie County. View a complete list of our funded programs, initiatives and movements.

How does United Way’s Annual Campaign help employees?

Your organization’s United Way campaign informs employees about programs and services for their families, friends and the community including:

  • Early childhood education

  • Day care for children and elderly

  • Emergency shelter

  • Employment training and placement

  • Treatment for drug and alcohol abuse

  • Adult literacy training

  • Mental health services

  • Health services

  • Family and marital counseling

In addition, United Way provides information channels that will link employees to other services and demonstrates the important role every employee can play in strengthening the community.

Does United Way fund abortions?

United Way of Erie County does not fund – nor has it ever funded – abortion services or agencies that provide abortions.

How much of my contribution pays for the NFL commercials?

United Way does not pay for the NFL commercials. Players donate their time to make the commercials and the NFL provides public service time free of charge to air them during NFL games on behalf of United Way. As part of their public service programming, newspapers, television and radio stations often include public service announcements for United Way and affiliate agencies free of charge.