Frequently Asked Questions to United Way of Halifax Region
If you have a question that is not answered here, contact us!
What does United Way do?
United Way Halifax brings people and organizations together to build vibrant neighbourhoods and strengthen our community.
It funds agency programs and collaborations and engages volunteers, business, government and organizations to help make our city great for everyone.
We are accountable and responsible stewards of donor contributions that we invest in our community. We work hard to ensure our efforts generate results that you can see.
What is United Way’s Community Fund?
When donors give directly to United Way, their donation is added to the Community Fund. It is the source of funding for United Way to strengthen neighbourhoods and make services available to everyone so they can find the help they need. Community Fund dollars support our local community.
How many agencies does United Way of Halifax Region fund through the Community Fund?
Currently United Way of Halifax Region funds 63 agencies in HRM, and supports two neighbourhoods through Action for Neighbourhood Change. In the 2012 round of funding applications, organizations applied to align with the four strategies we have identified under two major issues facing our community, poverty and health.
When does funding begin?
Organizations apply for funding starting in September. Funding Panel volunteers review applications and recommend funding to begin April 1 of the following year. All of United Way's funding aligns with this timing.What percentage of donations to United Way Halifax goes back into the community?
83% is returned to our community while the balance (17%) supports fundraising and administrative costs.
How much money did United Way Halifax raise last year?
Why is United Way focusing on poverty and health?
We conducted research wirth nine focus groups, online survey and community meetings to identify the critical issues facing our community. We reviewed research from Statistics Canada, Corporate Research Associates, Canada Mortgage and Housing, HRM, Capital Health to see if the issues were aligned with the results of our own surveys. Poverty and Health were the two major concerns raised. Volunteers and staff identified the community change we want to see and articulated outcomes related to four strategies: Opportunities, Neighbourhoods, Social Capital and Healthy Living.
Has United Way Halifax identified any priorities related to the strategies?
There are 2013-2015 priorities related to each strategy. They can be found in 2013 Community Investment
Are there other United Ways in Nova Scotia?
There are six United Ways in Nova Scotia including Halifax in Nova Scotia. They are located in Lunenburg County, Truro, Amherst, Pictou County and Sydney.
Why should I donate to United Way Halifax?
- Your donations change lives in this community;
- People gain opportunities to be financially secure and to live healthy active lives as a result of the strategic investments in community, as a result of your support;
- United Way brings community partners together so the effort is magnified;
- Funding Panel volunteers carefully review funding requests giving donors the assurance their money is given to organizations that make a measurable difference;
- United Way asks agencies to measure outcomes so we can report results. We have rigorous standards of accountability and governance for ourselves and for the agencies we support;
- United Way brings lasting value to agency partners with multi-year funding commitments;
- We also provide assistance to improve governance and administration practices when needed.
What does my donation support?
- Your donations supports agency programs focused on providing skills and opportunities for financial literacy;
- neighbourhood support to increase leadership and resident engagement in our neighbourhoods;
- programs bringing people together and enhancing a sense of belonging as well as intergenerational support;
- partnerships with organizations focused on the same social goals;
- research to understand our impact and the potential for long-term, sustainable solutions for complex social issues
What is the difference between United Way Halifax and United Way of Canada - Centraide? Are they independent or one large organization?
Each of Canada’s 117 United Way–Centraides are autonomous, operated by a voluntary Board of Directors within the communities they serve. The organizations work locally to address prevalent social issues and improve living conditions and quality of life within their specific areas.
While the issues each United Way face may vary, the vision that drives them is similar. United Way Canada – Centraide is the national organization that establishes policy and standards for the local organizations.
Is United Way involved in advocacy work?
The majority of our work currently is funding agencies, working in neighbourhoods and finding partners to address the underlying causes of social issues. There are some opportunities to work with municipal, provincial and federal governments to change social policy that creates barriers, preventing people from accessing the support they need. By advocating change around these social policies, we can make a more significant impact in our community.
Does United Way collaborate with other organizations?
We know it takes many individuals and organizations working together to address complex social issues. United Way works with individuals, social service agencies, schools, labour, business, cultural communities, post secondary institutions and government to promote awareness of key social issues in our community, maximize resources and find lasting solutions to complex issues.
How much of my donation does United Way Halifax use for fundraising and administration costs?
Fundraising and related administration costs for 2012 were 17 per cent of the total funds raised. This is among the lowest of fundraising costs for registered charities in Canada. By comparison, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers 35 per cent to be an acceptable standard.
As a registered Canadian charity, United Way is obliged to file a T3010 report with CRA annually, detailing all of its fundraising, administration, executive compensation and other costs. The latest CRA T3010 data can be found at www.cra-arc.gc.ca
Every dollar donated and every dollar spent is accounted for in our independently audited financial statements contained in our annual report.
How does United Way keep its costs so low?
United Way’s costs remain low for many reasons:
- Over 5,000 highly-skilled volunteers in workplaces across Halifax help to organize their own campaigns each year;
- Organizations in our community “donate” employees as part of the Loaned Representative program. Ten to twelve Loaned Reps spend 15 weeks during the fall to help plan more than 1000 workplace campaigns;
- Our ability to leverage our 88 year history of supporting community, strong reputation and high profile to receive pro-bono and discounted rates on some services, such as advertising and associated collateral.
How does United Way Halifax monitor transparency and accountability?
- Management, staff and volunteer vigilance to maximize community impact with donated dollars
- United Way Halifax, as a part of United Way Canada-Centraide, follows internal Transparency, Accountability and Financial Reporting (TAFR) guidelines which are intended to be defendable, acceptable, consistent, transparent and simple in providing standardized reporting by United Ways across Canada
- The accounting firm Grant Thornton ensures that our financial statements are accurate and we operate in a fiscally responsible manner. Financial statements are published in our Annual Report and made available on our website.
Is United Way a professional fundraiser?
No. United Way is not a professional fundraiser and does not take a percentage of donations as profit.
Does United Way use paid fundraising organizations?
No. Thanks to our staff and volunteers we are able to conduct our fundraising efforts with internal resources. All costs attributed to fundraising are included in the 16.1 per cent.
Are United Way events paid for with donor dollars?
United Way events may be funded through cost recovery (ie a fee is charged to cover costs) or sponsored by individuals or organizations. Sponsorship may be in the form of in-kind products or services or straight cash.
How much are United Way’s senior executives paid?
All salaries at United Way Halifax, including senior management, are benchmarked against other Canadian non-profit organizations of similar size and scope in Halifax and among other United Ways throughout Canada. We are part of a peer group of similar sized United Ways in the country and we routinely compare expenses, fundraising achievements, salaries and other comparable data to ensure we are aligned.
United Way Halifax is in compliance with the required T3010 regulatory reporting to Canada Revenue Agency for its executive compensation, which can be viewed at www.cra-arc.gc.ca
I heard a rumour the President of United Way uses a private jet.
When Catherine Woodman, President & CEO of United Way Halifax, travels by air, it is the same as all United Way staff - via the lowest available economy airfare on a commercial air carrier. She also drives her own vehicle, a volkswagon.
How much money did United Way raise last year? Where does the funding come from?
United Way Halifax raised just over $6.1 million in the 2012 campaign. Funding came from generous individuals in the community, workplace employees, corporate donations, and workplace events.
What is needed for a successful campaign?
We need to engage people’s hearts, minds and hands to help make Halifax a truly great city for everyone. Each of us can make a difference by volunteering, by giving back to the community financially, by learning about social issues, and by speaking up.
What is The Tomorrow Fund?
The Tomorrow Fund is United Way Halifax’s community-wide endowment fund. Donations to the fund are permanently invested, with a portion of the interest used to help United Way sustain long-term work and give thousands of people hope for a better life. The Tomorrow Fund is valued at approximately $2.2 million, thanks to a transfer of funds from the Chronicle Herald Rainbow Haven fund.
What is Leadership Giving?
Leaders are donors who contribute an annual gift of $1,000 or more. Major Gift donors contribute over $10,000 to our community.
How does United Way protect donors’ privacy?
United Way is committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of your personal information. The information you provide us will be used to assist in the proper administration and acknowledgement of your gift, to issue tax receipts and to fulfill your information requests. We do not sell donor information, nor do we share donor information with other agencies, unless donors ask us to do so. We protect information through secure computer systems and document handling.
Does United Way charge a fee for processing each Donor Choice designated gift?
Donor Choice is an added service that United Way offers to our donors. United Way’s core business is about making a measurable difference by focusing on our community priorities. The time and resources devoted to processing Donor Choice designations are costly and take us away from dedicating time to support our core business. There is a 4% processing fee for cash contributions that are designated and 8% for pledged contributions that are designated. This includes 4% processing fee and 4% pledge loss that United Way is required to pay out if a donor leaves a workplace or stops contributing. This 8% offsets the administration cost and ensures that we can continue to meet the needs in our community.
I feel pressured to give. Does United Way condone this?
No one should feel pressured to give, but everyone should be given the opportunity to make an informed choice. United Way works because so many people contribute voluntarily and know United Way creates added value to their gift. Our staff, community and workplace volunteers are trained to provide factual information and real examples of where, who and how change can happen with your help.
Where does United Way focus its community investments?
There are four distinct but interconnected strategies that are the focus of United Way’s community investments.
- People have the skills and opportunities they need to achieve financial security.
- Neighbourhoods have strong resident engagement and local leadership to achieve positive change.
- People have the relationships they need to build a sense of belonging and to improve their well-being.
- People have improved nutrition and active lifestyles to achieve physical well-being.
How are investment decisions made?
As part of our stewardship of donor dollars, we follow a rigorous process to ensure the best investment of resources. Community volunteers are recruited to serve on Funding Panels whose role is to review and recommend funding to the board of directors of United Way Halifax. Funding Panels visit agencies, meet with staff and look for measurable results as part of the funding application. This process ensures the highest standards of governance and accountability are met.
What is a Day of Caring®?
The Day of Caring® program enables workplace employees to spend time on community projects. Projects could include gardening outside an agency, painting the interior or exterior of an agency or making small repairs. A Day of Caring® promotes a deeper understanding of community challenges provides an excellent team-building opportunity and makes a visible impact in our community. Each year United Way Halifax places as many as 450 people at Day of Caring® projects.
Does United Way ever discontinue funding to an agency or program?
Some programs are designed as ‘pilots’ specifically funded or planned for a pre-determined duration.
There are also agencies that we reduce or discontinue funding for other reasons. In most years, our agency review process identifies the need to consider a phased reduction or cessation of United Way funding to one or more of our 100+ funded agencies. The reasons vary. It may be the agency has governance issues, outcome measurement shortfall or simply no longer requires United Way funding due to government or other funding sources meeting its financial needs. United Way engages in discussion to support performance or accountability issues, implement efficiency building strategies or engage United Way volunteers to assist with governance, financial management or program delivery assistance. There is potential for partnerships that do not include funding. Changes to funding contracts is a phased, collaborative process.
What is 211?
211 Nova Scotia is a telephone information and referral service funded by the Government of Nova Scotia and supported by United Way. By dialing 2-1-1, callers can receive free, confidential and multilingual information on a full range of community, social, health and government services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is fully operational as of February 11, 2013. 211 NS helps people access the community and social services they need. The service is also available online at www.ns.211.ca
United Way Halifax led this initiative and recruited support from Nova Scotia Power and Bell Aliant. The Board of Directors is an independent board separate from United Way Halifax.