United Way’s annual fall campaign is in full swing – with many special events, employee workplace campaigns and other third-party fund-raisers focused on our target of $2.2 million. Earlier this week, I was privileged to be invited to a local workplace to enjoy a delicious breakfast, to respond to some “wicked” questions and to dispel some myths that have been circulating about our organization. Here are some of the questions and my responses …

Question: I heard that United Way’s administration costs are too high.

Answer: The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) applauds organizations with fund-raising expenses below 35%. United Way of Chatham-Kent spends less than 20% of its campaign revenue on fund-raising costs – AND includes administration costs in this same percentage calculation. This leaves over 80% of the funds available for charitable work. Our local United Way recently received accreditation from the Better Business Bureau of Western Ontario – and meets all 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

Question: I heard that the CEO/Executive Director makes a six-figure salary. Is this true? How are executive salaries set?

Answer: No one employed by United Way of Chatham-Kent is in the “Sunshine Club” – defined as those public sector employees who earn more than $100,000 per year. The governing body – the Board of Directors – sets salary ranges based on the size of the organization and similar roles in other not-for-profit organizations. Salaries in the not-for-profit sector are found to be currently, and traditionally, lower than those in the private and government sectors.

Question: Do employees of the United Way donate to United Way?

Answer: United Way staff members are the first to give in any annual campaign. They cannot ask others to give unless they have given themselves. In the 2013 Campaign, the United Way Staff Team donated in excess of $11,000 to this year’s fund-raising effort.

Question: Wouldn’t it be better to donate directly to the individual charities?

Answer: The United Way “system” is efficient and effective, accountable and transparent – for donors and grant recipients alike. Each time a recipient charity receives an individual gift, it incurs processing costs – which redirects precious time and talent away from the provision of services to people in need. When United Way handles the fund-raising and the processing for its agencies and other donor choice recipients, it saves significant dollars and helps organizations to keep their own overhead low.

Question: United Way doesn’t do anything for me. Why should I give?

Answer: United Way improves the lives of your family, friends and neighbours by helping to build a stronger, safer and more caring community. United Way provides you with an opportunity to give, to volunteer and to act for the betterment of the community where you live, work and play. Research shows that one dollar invested in prevention saves seven dollars – down the road – in treatment services. So … in a time when we have so little control over our taxes, mortgage payments, utility bills, etc., charitable contributions are still something that you can control. You can decide when to give, how much to give and to whom. Surveys demonstrate that contributors to charity are actually happier people!

Question: I would like to help volunteer for one of the agencies. How would I go about doing that?

Answer: Patricia Weiler, Manager of Volunteer Chatham-Kent is your convenient single point of contact for volunteer opportunities in Chatham-Kent. Please connect with Patricia at patricia@uwock.ca or call 519-354-0430 to arrange for a personal interview.

Question: If I was in need of some type of assistance, who would I call?

Answer: You can now call “211” – the three digit information and referral service provided free within Chatham-Kent. The database for this service is maintained by Patricia Weiler, United Way’s Manager, Volunteer and Information Services.

 

If you would like to ask a “wicked” question about your local United Way, please write to me at karen@uwock.ca.