Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who am I helping when I give to United Way’s Community Fund?

You are helping strengthen the entire community. Money raised locally is spent locally on a variety of programs, initiatives and collaborations that target the unique human care needs of people from all over Dutchess and Orange Counties. United Way community investors and volunteers help their neighbors support a wide variety of programs and services, focused in the areas of Education, Income and Health.

Specifically, our goals are to help people meet their basic needs following a disaster or personal crisis, to help children and youth achieve their potential through education, to help individuals and families become financially stable and independent, and to improve people’s health.

2. Why is it better to give to United Way's Community Fund rather than directly donating to one organization?

When you give to the Community Fund, you support lasting change by addressing the underlying causes of problems. You help support programs, initiatives and collaborations that United Way knows are achieving measurable results in addressing the toughest issues in our community. We can provide comprehensive solutions in a way that a single organization can't do alone.

3. What is the role of United Way in our community?

United Way advances the common good. We mobilize resources – funds, expertise, volunteers, collaborations and public concern – and target those resources to achieve measurable benefits in our community. United Way, convenes leaders from non-profit organizations, businesses, education and government, conducts research, and helps develop an action plan so that many different groups can focus their resources on working together to address the priorities of the community most effectively.

4. Does United Way provide services directly to the community?

We do not. Hudson Valley Region 2-1-1 and all of our partners and projects do provide direct services. Projects such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the partnership to screen young children for developmental issues are closely associated with United Way but involve multiple partners.

5. Who decides which issues United Way will address and which programs
or projects are funded?

Volunteers from the community work at every stage, from learning about the community’s  aspirations to convening issue experts and coalitions to shaping an action plan to address the most pressing issues. United Way Board of Governors relies on data and input from the community to determine which issues we can best address. The Board has the ultimate vote on all funding decision and actions plans.

6. What are the qualifications to receive funding?

Your local United Way funds specific programs or projects, and does not provide “blanket funding” to organizations. Among the many outcomes required by United Way, our volunteers rate funding requests according to the program’s ability to:

  • Provide a needed service in one of the three impact areas (health, education, or financial stability) consistent with the action plans and the specific RFP or invitation to apply under which they are seeking funding;
  • Have a positive, measurable impact on our community;
  • Provide an annual audit and manage budget responsibly, and;
  • Operate as one of the most effective and efficient programs in our community.

7. What does United Way do to assure organizations that receive funding
are doing a good job?

Each program or project selected for funding must sign an agreement and submit Outcome Reports that measure the impact they are having on clients or community conditions. Financial and other reports are required as well. We review these reports, communicate with the organization, perform site visits then confer with volunteers when there appears to be an issue. We look at issues on a case-by-case basis recognizing that all organizations go through struggles from time to time. Our first step is to offer technical assistance and in rare cases when a program or project cannot meet our requirements we have put in place additional guidelines, reduced the grant or stopped it altogether.

8. How much am I expected to give?

United Way never “expects” a specific dollar amount from any community investor, and we are grateful when a decision is made to support our efforts at any level. This is really a personal decision that only you can make, based on your income level and your desire to support local programs that help local people. However, one guide people can use is to donate .6% of salary for incomes below $30,000; 1% of salary for incomes of $30,000 to $50,000; and 2% of salary for incomes of $50,000 or more. We encourage everyone to consider giving at least one dollar a pay period ($26 annually) -- or increasing their prior year’s gift by at least one dollar a pay period. People who are fortunate enough to be earning $50,000 or more per year are asked to consider giving at the leadership level of $1,000 or more a year.

9. Do I have a choice about where my money goes?

Yes. Community investors have a range of choices:

  • They can automatically give their donation to United Way Community Fund, the most efficient and effective way to help the greatest number of local people with the most pressing health and human-service needs;
  • They can designate a portion of their gift to any tax-exempt, nonprofit organization -- including arts or environmental organizations and schools and churches. Designations are given directly to chosen organizations. Payments are made to these organizations in installments throughout the year, as pledges are collected. United Way charges a $7.00 processing fee per designation to organizations in order to recover costs associated with distributing community investor choice gifts, as well as a 5% uncollectible fee.

(Please note that some organizations, as well as state and federal facilities, do not use United Way pledge cards and may not permit the same open donor choice giving. These policies are outside the control of our United Way.)

10. What is the relationship between United Way and United Way Worldwide?
What about United Way of New York State?

Both United Way Worldwide and United Way of New York State act as a resource to help our local United Way learn from the experience of other United Way organizations. From learning the best ways to raise money or work with organizations to deliver programs that really help people, to training volunteers and staff, both organizations provide a network of state- and world-wide experience to help our United Way increase its ability to help our community.

Although United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region can look to the state and national organizations for assistance, our United Way is completely autonomous and governed by local volunteers representing towns and businesses from across Dutchess and Orange Counties.