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Frequently Asked Questions

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Who benefits from gifts to the Community Fund?

Your gift to the Community Fund helps thousands of local people Meet Basic Needs, Gives Babies the Best Start, Prepares Kids for Success and Supports Seniors and Caregivers. Dollars donated to the Community Fund are invested in health and human service programs that help people in the Monroe County community.

Who decides how dollars to the Community Fund are invested?

Local volunteers participating on United Way’s Community Investment Cabinet work alongside United Way’s professional staff and human service professionals to ensure your gift to the Community Fund helps to address Greater Rochester’s most critical needs.

How does United Way decide which organizations to include on the donor choice list?

Local not-for-profit health and human service organizations must apply to be included on the donor choice list and fit the eligibility requirements. Eligibility information and additional frequently asked questions about donor choice organizations can be found here, along with an application to be added to the list.

How can I make the most impact in my community?

When you give a leadership gift - an annual contribution of $1,000 or more - to United Way, you join hundreds of like-minded individuals in our community who come together to make significant change for those in need. Click here for more information on leadership giving societies and to find one that fits your interests.

The Loyal Donor Society is 14,000 people strong, with more than 600 donors who’ve been giving to United Way for more than 50 years. Please let us know if you or someone you know has been faithfully giving to United Way for five years or longer and would like to be recognized as a loyal donor. Contact us at 585-242-6512 or contactus@uwrochester.org.

By choosing to become a Sustaining Community Fund Supporter, you provide an ongoing, stable source of revenue that will allow United Way to continue addressing our community’s most pressing challenges. We will automatically charge your debit or credit card with your specified annual gift. We will continue to use your donation to help thousands of people in need in our community.


What is the difference between United Way of Greater Rochester and Rochester Area Community Foundation (RACF)?

One way to look at the two organizations is to think of United Way as a sort of community check book, and a Community Foundation as a savings account. United Ways often work with community foundations to produce community needs assessments, encourage local philanthropy and address local issues. However, the organizations do differ. United Way of Greater Rochester focuses primarily on areas of community impact and funds local programs that are working to address our community’s most critical challenges. Rochester Area Community Foundation supports a broad range of organizations and individuals by providing a variety of giving vehicles including grants, scholarships and endowments that are directed by individual donors.

What is the relationship between United Way of Greater Rochester and ROC the Day?

United Way “powers” ROC the Day. United Way built the website, convenes community partners, recruits local not-for-profits to participate and processes the donations during the event. United Way is also responsible for advertising, social media and other promotion, as are the hundreds of not-for-profits that participate in the giving event. Traditionally, United Way campaigns support local health and human service organizations; ROC the Day is open to any eligible not-for-profit in the nine-county Greater Rochester region, serving a variety of sectors including animals, arts and culture, environment, human services, health, education, religion and community development.


United Way is Rochester’s largest and most efficient charitable means of supporting the planning, delivery, and evaluation of local human service programs. 92 cents of every contributed dollar is used to meet community needs.

What is the cost-sharing policy?

Beginning in January 2013, all agencies receiving funds through United Way’s campaign have agreed to share fundraising costs on the total dollars they receive from the United Way. This agency cost sharing will allow United Way to continue its commitment to efficiency, financial stewardship of donor’s dollars, convenience (e.g., payroll deduction), accountability and focus on solving our community’s most pressing social issues.

What is the difference between United Way’s administrative and fundraising costs?

United Way’s fundraising costs are the direct and indirect costs associated with raising funds for the annual campaign, including staff resources, marketing and other costs. United Way’s administrative costs cover all of the costs of doing business including valuable community planning, staff costs, building and office materials.

What is United Way’s administrative expense?

United Way’s total administrative expense amounted to 15.4% in 2014-15.

What are United Way’s current fundraising costs?

As of our last audited financial statements (March 31, 2015) our fundraising costs were 8.8%.

How do United Way’s administrative costs compare to other non-profits?

Charity Navigator awards the highest score for fundraising costs if they are 10% or less and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance indicates that a charity should spend no more than 35% of related contributions on fundraising. United Way of Greater Rochester is well below both of these guidelines.

Will my specific donation be charged a fee?

If you designate your gift to a particular agency, the agency will be informed of the full amount of your gift and you are able to claim the full amount of the gift for tax purposes, as you have in the past. Because agencies have agreed to help carry the costs of fundraising and that cost will be assessed against the total amount each agency receives, a portion of your gift, in effect, will be used to cover those costs.

Can I still claim 100% of my gift on my taxes?

While you need to consult your own tax advisor on your individual charitable deductions, 100% of your gift is eligible for charitable tax claims.

I donate to a specific Donor Designated agency; why shouldn’t I just gift to them directly?

If you prefer that the agency not have to assume the costs of fund raising through United Way, you should feel free to give directly that organization. One of the reasons donors often choose to give through United Way, however, is because of the convenience of payroll deduction, i.e., the donors typically can give a larger amount to the agencies, because their gift is spread out over the course of the entire year.


Does United Way of Greater Rochester ensure that programs supported by the Community Fund do not discriminate?

To receive support from United Way’s Community Fund, agencies must agree to comply with all requirements of any applicable federal, state and local laws including ordinances pertaining to equal employment opportunity, fair employment practices and nondiscrimination in the delivery of services. The Seneca Waterways Council is in full compliance with these laws, therefore the current funding relationship with United Way will continue.

Does United Way of Greater Rochester currently provide funding to the Boy Scouts?

United Way of Greater Rochester’s Community Fund supports the Scoutreach After School program offered by the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. The $258,485 in funding provided to this program in 2015 ensures that hundreds of local students have a safe and enriching place to go after school where they are able to participate in fun and interactive activities focusing on literacy, science and math.

What was the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Boy Scouts?

In 2015, the Boyscouts of America's National Executive Board approved an end to excluding individuals from serving as scoutmasters on the basis of sexual orientation. The Boyscouts of America will continue to allow church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons.

What are the membership and leadership criteria for the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America?

The following are highlights from the Seneca Waterways Council’s statement on membership:

  • Membership in the Seneca Waterways Council is open to all who agree to abide by the Scout Oath.
  • The council teaches tolerance of human differences.
  • The council does not initiate inquiry into the sexual identity of existing or prospective members.
  • The council believes that education concerning human sexuality is the province of a member’s family, religious leaders, doctors, or other qualified advisors.
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior is inconsistent with the Scout program and may hinder, distract, or prevent the council from attaining its goal of fostering youth development.
  • In accordance with national membership standards, the council will exclude a member if his or her sexuality or behavior becomes inappropriate.
  • The council does not permit the organization to be used as a vehicle to promote anyĆ¢€¦ agenda that is inconsistent with Scouting’s mission or the attainment of its goals.
  • Seneca Waterways Council follows all applicable laws and regulations dealing with employees’ rights and the fair treatment of people.


What is the relationship between United Way and Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region?

Planned Parenthood receives funding through United Way’s Donor Choice program. You can designate to Planned Parenthood; that’s the only means by which the organization receives money through United Way.

If I designate to Planned Parenthood, how will the money be used?

The use of funds distributed to Planned Parenthood, and all other agencies receiving donor designations through United Way’s Donor Choice program, are not governed by United Way of Greater Rochester. To learn more about how your gift is used, please contact the specific donor choice agency directly. For more information about United Way’s requirements for Donor Choice agencies, click here.


Does United Way have a whistleblower policy?

To see United Way of Greater Rochester's policy regarding reporting of violations of the code of ethics and code of conduct click here.

97% of families helped by Community Fund programs avoid child maltreatment, abuse and neglect.