self-sufficiency to central Marylanders facing poverty.
self-sufficiency to central Marylanders facing poverty.
United Way of Central Maryland FAQs
Q: What does United Way of Central Maryland (UWCM) do?
A: We have two primary goals:
1. Address basic human needs in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.
2. Be an efficient and effective fundraiser.
United Way’s work uses a collective impact model to help people in central Maryland facing poverty stabilize their lives and become self-sufficient. Large-scale social change requires coordination across many sectors. We mobilize human service experts, corporate partners, government and community leaders to identify outcomes that lead to real change, multiplying our impact. Then we pull together the resources it takes to ensure change, such as raising financial support, funding and advocacy for highly effective human service programs, and mobilizing volunteers. Together, we can accomplish more than any single person, group or organization.
Q: What does it mean to address basic needs?
A: We support a range of services, initiatives and volunteer efforts along a “basic needs continuum” to help people living at or within 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level:
1. Get out of crisis (shelter, food, health care, etc.)
2. Stay out of crisis (eviction prevention, child care vouchers, supportive services, etc.)
3. Achieve higher-quality, self-sufficient lives (employment training, financial literacy, asset building, permanent housing, education, etc.)
Q: How is this basic needs direction different from our old work? Does it mean UWCM no longer focuses on education, income and health?
A: Our commitment is to (1) be data-driven in our work and funding, (2) understand regional health and human needs and (3) make funding decisions locally. What the data and our partners tell us is that a large number of central Maryland residents have unmet basic needs like access to healthy food, housing and health care. By working with jurisdictional leaders and local subject experts, we can see where the pressing needs are and what sources of funding (such as local government dollars) are already being applied so that we can fill in the gaps in partnership with them, rather than providing grants without such context. Elements of education, income and health are embedded in this basic needs work.
Q: How does UWCM help people access resources to meet their basic needs and stabilize?
A: Through 2-1-1 Maryland at United Way of Central Maryland (2-1-1 MD at UWCM), we connect people seeking assistance with free, confidential help 24/7 by referring callers to the most pertinent health and human service providers. People in need no longer have to navigate a complicated web of resources on their own – a caring call specialist from 2-1-1 will listen to their individual issues and connect them with the appropriate help.
In the 2012 Fiscal Year, 2-1-1 MD at UWCM answered more than 95,000 calls from people seeking help. The top five call requests to 2-1-1 MD at UWCM are for legal and tax assistance, housing, utilties, individual and family supports, and food.
We also help low-income individuals and families gain financial stability by informing them about free tax preparation and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which can go a long way in helping lift people out of poverty. EITC can amount to $6,000 cash-in-hand for an eligible family of four.
Q: How does United Way of Central Maryland's work move families and individuals facing poverty toward good health, financial stability and self-sufficiency?
A: A key part of United Way’s strategy for creating long-term solutions to deep-rooted problems is understanding that our region’s issues are part of a continuum. We cannot fix the problems of a community by focusing on just one issue. United Way’s work starts with people living in poverty and addresses the range of issues that can result – lack of housing, health care, healthy food, quality child care, education, financial stability, stable employment and more.
Q: What are UWCM's special programs and initiatives?
A: In addition to providing grant funding to more than 100 nonprofits in central Maryland, United Way of Central Maryland manages its own unique initiatives aimed at bringing good health, financial stability and self-sufficiency to central Marylanders facing poverty.
Access to Healthy Food Initiative
Food insecurity is the lack of available nutritious food, a problem rooted in poverty and exacerbated by lack of grocery stores in neighborhoods, lack of transportation and increases in food costs. Launched in 2011, this multi-year initiative is making healthy food more easily accessible for food insecure central Marylanders by collaborations to grow more locally, improve distribution, and increase access and affordability. In partnership with the American Heart Association’s Community Kitchen, UWCM is also educating people in need about how to plan and prepare healthy meals.
To address the startling fact that families are the fastest growing homeless group, UWCM has developed an innovative multi-faceted program aimed at preventing family homelessness, housing homeless families and building financial security for families in crisis. Through intensive case management and master-leased housing units (diverting families from congregate shelters), parents can stabilize their financial situations while children are able to remain in their schools.
2-1-1 Maryland at United Way of Central Maryland
2-1-1 is a 24/7 information and referral service that connects people with the health and human resources they need. UWCM’s 2-1-1 call center (one of four in Maryland) serves as a barometer of need for issues in our community, giving UWCM a unique vantage point for identifying, assessing, tracking and meeting people’s basic needs locally. 2-1-1 MD at UWCM is often used as the point of connection for critical services, demonstrated through partnerships with HealthCare Access Maryland, Baltimore CASH Campaign and Baltimore City’s Super Summer Program, as well as UWCM’s own Harvest of Plenty holiday meal program.
READ LEARN SUCCEED
Early grade reading is critical to a child’s success in life. Poor readers in the third grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school, which means they are cut off from 90 percent of American jobs. Their odds of becoming a single parent, homeless or a criminal greatly increase. As part of a national effort to decrease the high school drop-out rate, UWCM has created a program that recruits volunteers to read to local children so that they can learn to read, read to learn and succeed in school and beyond.
The Journey Home
UWCM believes that homelessness is not a permanent condition. The Journey Home is a plan between Baltimore City and UWCM to make homelessness rare and brief in Baltimore by addressing affordable housing, comprehensive health care, sufficient incomes, and comprehensive preventive and emergency services. Beyond Baltimore City, UWCM is helping several central Maryland counties develop their own homelessness plans.
Q: Who guides UWCM's health and human service work?
A: UWCM has a Community Partnership Board in each central Maryland jurisdiction (Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties). These Partnership Boards comprise community leaders who live and/or work in the communtiy they serve, offering on-the-ground knowledge. Together, they make funding decisions for each jurisdiction and guide the work that will be done there. UWCM staff with long-standing experience and expertise work closely with these expert volunteers.
Q: Does United Way of Central Maryland only provide funds?
A: No. UWCM’s work involves so much more than money…
- We collaborate with nonprofit agencies across central Maryland to truly understand the needs and how to best approach systematic solutions.
- We connect the dots between the public sector, private sector, nonprofits and individuals to create collective impact. When we all come together to focus on community issues, we can create long-term change.
- Partnerships with companies such as Procter & Gamble have resulted in programs like Dream & Flourish, designed to mentor and inspire middle school girls in Baltimore County.
- We offer donors opportunities to do more than give. For example, our Days of Action encourage volunteers to get hands-on in community service projects.
- Through 2-1-1 MD at UWCM, we linked more than 95,000 callers last year (Fiscal Year 2012) to specialized resources, including housing, food, health care, utility assistance and more.
- 2-1-1 MD at UWCM operates as the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) hotline. Last year, United Way responded to nearly 9,000 calls regarding tax preparation assistance. Along with the Maryland CASH Campaign, our efforts contributed to low- to moderate-income Marylanders recouping an estimated $18.5 million from federal and state tax refunds, and more than $6 million in Earned Income Tax Credits.
- We make data from our Community Issues Management (CIM) system publicly available for community planning and decision making.
- We administer Maryland’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Through our work, we’re spearheading an effort to integrate and coordinate homelessness data from communities throughout the state so that we can make better decisions to benefit those experiencing homelessness and families at risk.
- Through our Youth Ventures program, we have partnered with SimplexGrinnell to introduce young people into the world of giving back by developing and presenting business plans for projects that will strengthen the community.
Q: How do you know UWCM's work is making a difference?
A: Through reports from funded agencies, research and data analysis, as well as partnering with nonprofit colleagues, UWCM is committed to making sure we measure the performance of our funded partners. All programs that UWCM funds are held accountable for efficienct spending and measurable outcomes. On an annual basis, UWCM reports results from all of the programs we fund through an Impact Statement.
In addition, our 2-1-1 MD at UWCM information and referral line is an excellent barometer of need. It helps us refocus our efforts based on growing needs, and understand where differences need to be made. Our expert volunteers also help us gauge and track our work and success.
Q: How does UWCM make sure local work is truly local?
A: Six Community Partnership Boards advise and inform UWCM on local issues. Each Partnership Board has voting representation on UWCM’s governing Board of Directors. Donors can also direct their gift to any of our six community funds, ensuring that their gift stays in the local jurisdiction(s) they select.
Q: How does United Way of Central Maryland help other nonprofits that provide basic needs and other supportive services?
A: We are a critical source of funding, volunteers and other support for more than 100 nonprofits working on the front-line across the region. UWCM saves these organizations substantial administrative, fundraising, customer service and marketing expenses. Through our involvement, expertise and leadership, UWCM helps other nonprofits build their capacity and efficacy at a time when every philanthropic dollar needs to count.
Q: How is UWCM responding to the great amount of need in our community?
A: In 2010, we refocused our efforts to ensure that we’re meeting people’s basic needs by getting and keeping people out of crisis and helping them achieve higher-quality, self-sufficient lives. The building blocks of life – education, income and health – are embedded within the basic needs spectrum. We’ve also maintained our lower designation fee, so agencies may receive more money from donors.
Q: Is it true that a person can choose to give to their favorite charity through UWCM?
A: Yes. UWCM’s designation policy encourages philanthropy for the causes people care about. We accept designations for a gift as small as $50.00 ($1 per week) to any health and human service agency in the USA. Most collected designations are paid to charities monthly.
Q: How many agencies receive UWCM distributions of money?
A: UWCM distributes funds to more than 1,700 nonprofit health and human service agencies each year through designations, and approximately 120 receive grants. UWCM provides health and human service organizations with multiple opportunities throughout the year to compete for grant funding.
Q: What is UWCM's fee to designate?
A: UWCM’s designation fee is a flat rate of 5 percent, with a minimum of $5 and a cap of $500. There is no fee to designate to UWCM, jurisdictions or the 2-1-1 Maryland at UWCM information and referral service.
Q: Why should I give to United Way of Central Maryland when I can give directly to charities?
A: No one agency or organization can influence community change alone. People in need often require the support of multiple services – many of which are often lesser known, but just as important as services with high visibility. By contributing to UWCM, you help ensure the network of services that no one agency or program could provide.
Our trusted experts and knowledgeable staff work with partners across the region and know how your funds can do the most good for the most people. They help us understand what the needs are and what resources are already being applied to them, so that we can help close the gap between the services that people need and the services that they are able to obtain. We make nonprofits more efficient by assuming fundraising, marketing and customer service expenses for them. We offer the highest level of accountability – for ourselves and our partners.
As a result, a direct contribution to UWCM will leverage your dollars to have the most impact. Contributing directly to UWCM, as opposed to designating to an individual charity, truly increases your power to create change.
Q: What is United Way of Central Maryland's overhead?
A: UWCM is committed to driving down administrative, marketing and fundraising expenses relentlessly. UWCM’s overhead rate (which is administrative, marketing and fundraising costs as a percentage of total income received) was 17.89 percent in FY 2012. This compares favorably with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance guidelines, which suggest nonprofit overhead should be 35 percent or less. In performing marketing, fundraising, customer service and donor accounting on behalf of hundreds of other nonprofit organizations, UWCM is in a unique position to absorb these overhead-related expenses on their behalf.
Q: How is a designation fee different from overhead?
A: The designation fee is a service fee established in advance to cover the cost incurred by UWCM to process a transaction from the donor to the designated charity. Overhead, calculated annually, is the percentage of operating costs compared to total income received. Operating costs include administration, marketing and fundraising costs.
Q: What type of financial oversight does UWCM have?
A: UWCM’s Board of Directors has ultimate responsibility for its financial condition. By way of its Finance Committee, the Board retains an independent auditor who then reports the findings to the Board. Financial statements are audited annually by Ellin & Tucker, Chartered. UWCM consistently receives an unqualified audit, which means a “clean audit.”
Q: Does anyone monitor or recognize United Way of Central Maryland's work?
A: UWCM has earned the Standards for Excellence credential from the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations since 2000, recognizing the highest standards of governance, ethics and accountability. UWCM is one of about 75 nonprofits across the state and just 230 across the country to have earned this seal.
Q: Is my donation to UWCM tax deductible?
A: Yes. United Way of Central Maryland is a qualified 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization (Contributions to United Way of Central Maryland, Inc. are tax deductible within the limits of current federal and Maryland state law. UWCM provides no goods or services in exchange for your contributions.)
To be eligible for a deduction for the 2012 tax year, you must donate by 9:00 p.m. on December 31, 2012.
You will receive a tax receipt for direct contributions of $250 or more made before this deadline. UWCM will send a receipt before January 31 of the following year. To ensure your receipt is delivered, please provide us with your full home address.
When filing your 2012 taxes, you must file Form 1040 and be eligible to itemize deductions. For more information, visit Four Steps to Reducing Your Tax Burden & Helping Your Community and consult with your tax advisor.
If your contribution is being made by payroll deduction, you should keep a copy of your pledge card and/or email acknowledgement which, along with your pay stubs or other documents furnished by your employer, show the amount withheld for your contribution and will provide the necessary support for your contribution for Federal Income tax purposes.
A copy of the most current financial statement is available upon request by contacting United Way of Central Maryland at P.O. Box 1576, Baltimore MD 21203-1576, 410-547-8000. Documents and information submitted to the State of Maryland under the Maryland Charitable Solicitations Act are available from the Office of the Secretary of State for the cost of copying and postage.