From time to time, the staff of United Way of the Cape Fear Area (UWCFA) are asked questions, whether from employees at workplace campaigns or individuals who used to be involved with a United Way in their hometowns. Some want to get more information, while others want to find a way to re-engage. Questions often focus on: who UWCFA funds; where donor dollars go; who makes funding decisions; does the local UWCFA have a national presence; and does my money stay local. All excellent questions and ones we are excited to talk about.
MYTH: When I give to UWCFA, my money might be sent anywhere in the world.
UWCFA Area is completely local and independent from every other United Way. Less than 2 percent of what we raise annually is paid in dues to United Way Worldwide for use of the logo and training opportunities. The remaining 98 percent stays here, to be invested in sustainable solutions to the most pressing needs in Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties.
MYTH: United Way staff has to do whatever their main chapter tells them to do with donated money.
Every decision regarding how to use funds raised by UWCFA are made by local volunteers who live and work right here in our four-county area. Whether you donate or not, you are welcome at any time to join one of the committees that make these decisions. UWCFA staff does not make these decisions. United Way Worldwide has absolutely no say in what happens to dollars raised or leveraged by UWCFA. United Ways do not operate on a chapter structure. Each United Way organization is independent and locally owned. Organizations are free to cater their funded services to address the needs of their particular community.
MYTH: The best way to have a say in what happens to my donated money is to designate it to a specific nonprofit.
The best way to have a say in what happens to your donation is to give to the Community Impact (CI) Fund. Community Impact was designed to give local donors power over their United Way investment and the CI process increases the efficiency and ensures the efficacy of every contribution. Community Impact also tracks your gift and provides quarterly updates to let you know how your gift has changed lives in the community. And finally, CI increases the return on your investment through the leveraging of funds. The local dollars we raise are used to attract funds from outside our community. Given the amount leveraged in the past year, we are providing $2 worth of impact for every $1 invested.
So, what happens when I designate my gift? UWCFA still accepts designations because our priority is to honor donor intent. We want your dollars to go where you want them to go. However, when you give through this method, UWCFA has no recourse to ensure your contributions remain local or in regard to how your gift is used.
MYTH: If I only have a small amount to give, it won’t make a difference.
UWCFA’s Community Impact Fund allows every donation, regardless of the amount, to be leveraged and applied to address a broad spectrum of needs in the Cape Fear area. No other giving opportunity allows your gift to go further.
MYTH: I have no way of knowing if my donated dollars actually helped anyone.
The purpose of UWCFA’s Community Impact giving option is to make seeing the impact of your gift easy. Community Impact only awards grants to programs that establish measurable outcomes that prove the effectiveness of their work. Every quarter, these programs are required to report on these outcomes to UWCFA. The team at UWCFA then makes these quarterly reports available to donors and the community at large. This process ensures a tangible return on your investment and the greatest impact for your gift in the community.
To understand United Way is to trust in United Way and our processes. We pride ourselves in our transparency as an organization and encourage our community to ask questions and get to know us. Visit our website at www.uwcfa.org. Learn about the local programs in the community that we partner with. Find out how we help local agencies work together to collaborate on special initiatives, all leading to the most efficient use of your gifts combined with the gifts of others. See how we are working to help youth violence, feed hungry kids and find affordable quality health care for your neighbors.
Get involved. Learn the facts. Make and impact. Give of yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
Christopher L. Nelson is president of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area, a local nonprofit organization. Since 1941, the United Way of the Cape Fear Area has worked alongside local agencies in Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties to assist them in providing substantial and sustainable change within the Cape Fear area. To learn more about the United Way of the Cape Fear Region, go to https://uwcfa.org/ or call 910-798-3900.
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