I heard that United Way’s administration costs are too high. What are they?

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 the balance – approximately 80% of the funds available for charitable work.


I heard that the CEO/Executive Director makes a six figure salary. How are executive salaries set?

The governing body – the Board of Directors – sets salaries 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.   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.

Do employees of the United Way donate to United Way?

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 2017 Campaign, the employees donated in excess of $15,000 to the fund-raising effort.

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

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!

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

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.

I heard that United Way purchased a Hummer to help promote its campaign. Why would they do that?

John Gibbons and his wife, Glenda, were the Co-Chairs for the United Way Campaign in 2003 and owned a GMC Dealership.  John and Glenda wanted to draw attention to United Way and their involvement, so they contributed all costs to detail and operate a bright yellow Hummer to drive throughout the campaign and to serve as a billboard on wheels.  No United Way funds were used to detail, operate or maintain this vehicle.

Besides donating money, what can I do to help in my community?

Volunteer!    Learn about your community.   Awareness is the key to change!  For those who have attended a “Seeing is Believing” bus tour, share the information you learned!  If you were inspired, inspire others!   Eliminating the myths that interfere with United Way’s intentions will allow for much more success in our campaign and therefore in community involvement.

If people are poor they should get a job. Why should I spend my hard earned dollars to support people who don’t support themselves?

Many people in Chatham-Kent have very strong feelings about the economy, religion, politics and other extremely important current events.  United Way’s mission seeks to understand and to assist where it makes the most effective use of every donor dollar.  Our policy of neutrality prevents us from taking sides or passing judgment.  The fact is that at least 12% of our current population lives below the poverty line and our Prosperity Roundtable is developing strategies to address this complex social issue.   United Way donations (as depicted in our logo) are used to provide a “hand up” as opposed to a “hand out”.

It is important to note that United Way does not give funds to individuals.  Donated dollars are either allocated – or designated – to support agencies, programs and services that address specific needs throughout Chatham-Kent.

In actual fact, many people who live below the poverty line are some of the best managers of money; they know how to stretch a dollar.  United Way dollars are used to provide such items as gently worn winter coats and backpacks for kids, which frees up dollars to spend on other necessities such as food and shelter.   No child asks to be born into poverty.  As a community, we have a responsibility to take care of these children – who are our future.


Don’t our government social services cater to our needs in our community? Isn’t that what our tax dollars are doing?

The government is not able to meet all of the needs in any given community.   This has been an historic fact.  United Ways work in partnership with business, government and voluntary sector organizations to identify community issues and to mobilize resources to address them.  No one sector of the community can do it all.

How do you decide what agencies to fund?

Members of the United Way family of agencies are invited, on an annual basis, to submit funding applications to United Way in order to access grants from the United Way Community Fund.  Through a citizen review process, trained volunteers review funding applications by evaluating program summaries, budgets and through on-site interviews.  Grant recommendations are then presented to the United Way Board of Directors (also volunteers) for final approval.

The members of the Community Investment (Fund-Distribution) Committee understand the great responsibility they have to the general public in ensuring that donated dollars are wisely invested in programs and services that meet urgent community needs.  The reality is that there are never enough dollars to meet all of the needs in the community and many organizations are asked to do their important work with limited resources.  If the United Way campaign were to surpass its objective, many of the agencies could receive the dollars they need to provide necessary services.

From time to time, the United Way Board of Directors will set aside additional funds (usually from savings generated through the management budget and/or non-campaign revenue) for “Community Impact” Grants – designed specifically to address new and/or emerging community needs.  Some previous recipients of these types of grants include Blenheim Youth Centre, YMCA Youth Leadership Project, Community Living Chatham-Kent, Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres, St. Clair Catholic District School Board, J. G. Taylor Community Centre and Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village.

How accountable are the agencies that receive funds through United Way?

All of the recipients of United Way’s grants are either Registered Canadian Charitable Organizations or Qualified Donees.  Our funded agencies sign a funding agreement, on an annual basis, which ensures that dollars are being used to provide services described in their annual funding proposal.  In this agreement are various pledges of compliance that include – a provision of a minimum of 30 days written notification to United Way of any significant changes to United Way funded services, the submission of updates and surveys, responses to information queries as required and other partnership requirements.  These organizations must also file an annual income tax return with the government.

Once the funds are distributed by the United Way (usually on a monthly instalment basis), the Director, Community Impact (Helen Heath) stays in contact with the funded agencies to ensure that the funds are utilized for the purpose for which they were provided.  In rare situations, the needs of an agency can change and the United Way Board must approve a redistribution of funds for another program or service.  Aimee June, United Way’s 2015 Campaign Co-Chair has served on United Way’s Community Investment Committee for several years and can attest to the efficient yet challenging process of allocating funds when there are never enough to go around.

Wouldn’t it be better to donate directly to the supported agencies?

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 processing for its agencies and other donor choice recipients, it saves significant dollars and helps organizations to keep their overhead low.  When United Way conducts its annual federated fund-raising campaign, funded agency staff and volunteers can focus on their core businesses.

What proportion of the dollars raised in Chatham Kent stay in Chatham Kent?

One hundred percent of the dollars raised in Chatham-Kent stay in Chatham-Kent – with the exception of donor-directed contributions to non-member charities such as War Amps, Doctors without Borders, etc. where head offices are located outside our catchment area (there are over 85,000 Registered Canadian Charities in Canada). Each of the 108 United Ways in Canada pays a membership fee (like a franchise fee) to United Way Centraide Canada (National Office in Ottawa) for the use of the logo and name, research and other promotional materials; this amount equates to approximately ¾ of 1% of the announced campaign achievement for the previous year.

With so many agencies how would I find the right one if I was in need of some type of assistance and didn’t know whom to call?

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.

Does United Way support one specific political party or one specific candidate?

As a registered Canadian charitable organization, United Way of Chatham-Kent is strictly prohibited from devoting any of its resources to partisan political activities. A partisan political activity is one that involves the direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party at any time, whether during an election period or not, or a candidate for public office.

For more information about your local United Way of Chatham-Kent and the agencies, programs and services supported by United Way contributions, please review our Annual Report to the Community at www.uwock.ca and/or contact Karen Kirkwood-Whyte, CEO, United Way of Chatham-Kent at 519-354-0430.