United Way of Central Maryland FAQs
Q: What does United Way of Central Maryland (UWCM) do?
A: We have two primary goals:
- Advance the basic needs building blocks of education, financial stability and health to help low income families achieve self-sufficiency.
- Be an efficient and effective fundraiser.
United Way is changing the odds for families and communities by focusing on the basic building blocks of a self-sufficient life: education, financial stability and health. We all win when students succeed in school, families are financially stable and people are healthy.
In philanthropy, United Way does what no single donor or entity can do alone. We galvanize and connect all sectors of society — individuals, businesses, nonprofits and governments — to raise the resources needed to create long-term social change that produces healthy, educated and financially-stable individuals and families. Together, we can accomplish more than any single person, group or organization.
Q: Does UWCM provide direct services to local people in need?
A: Through the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline, 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 – by simply dialing 2-1-1, a caring call specialist will listen to their individual issues and connect them with the appropriate help.
In the 2014 fiscal year, the 2-1-1 MD United Way Helpline answered more than 96,400 calls from people seeking help.
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 UWCM's work move families and individuals facing poverty toward good health, financial stability and self-sufficiency?
A: A key part of UWCM’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 advancing education, financial stability and health for central Marylanders facing poverty.
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 shelter diversion, parents can stabilize their financial situations while children are able to remain in their schools.
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.
2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline
2-1-1 is a 24/7 information and referral service that connects people with the health and human resources they need. The 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline (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 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, impoverished 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 jurisdictions develop their own homelessness plans.
Project Homeless Connect
As a tactic of The Journey Home, UWCM has collaborated with The Mayor’s Office of Human Services, Homeless Services Programs (MOHS-HSP) to bring Project Homeless Connect to Baltimore. A day-long resource fair for local people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, Project Homeless Connect provides comprehensive services including housing, food, health care, employment, legal and hygiene, and is considered a national best practice in creating pathways out of homelessness.
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 community 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: 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 government, businesses, nonprofits and individuals to create collective impact. When we all come together to focus on community issues, we can create long-term change.
- We offer donors opportunities to do more than give. For example, our Days of Action and READ LEARN SUCCEED program encourage volunteers to get hands-on in the community.
- Through the 2-1-1 MD United Way Helpline, we linked more than 96,400 callers last year (Fiscal Year 2014) to specialized resources, including legal and tax assistance, housing, individual and family supports, utilities and food.
- The 2-1-1 MD United Way Helpline operates as the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) hotline. Last year, United Way responded to more than 12,000 calls regarding tax preparation assistance. Along with the Maryland CASH Campaign, our efforts contributed to low- to moderate-income Marylanders recouping an estimated $30 million from federal and state tax refunds, and more than $10.4 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.
Q: How do you know UWCM's work is making a difference?
A: Data is a critical component of tracking our success. 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 and our own organization. All programs that UWCM funds are held accountable for efficient spending and measurable outcomes. On an annual basis, UWCM reports results from all of the programs we fund through an impact statement.
In addition, the 2-1-1 MD United Way Helpline 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 do you 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: Do you offer anything other than the opportunity to give?
A: We offer a wide range of opportunities to volunteer across the region.
- Our volunteerism program for families, Families Living United, brings together people of all ages for hands-on volunteer projects.
- UWCM’s annual Day of Action offers volunteer opportunities for workplace teams with UWCM community partners.
- Baltimore Project Homeless Connect is an annual homeless resource fair that requires upwards of 1,000 volunteers.
- READ LEARN SUCCEED is a UWCM program launched in 2012 that matches volunteers with opportunities to read to children from low-income households.
- There are also opportunities to volunteer with the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline during tax season to help connect low- to moderate-income people with free tax preparation.
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 $100.00 ($2 per week) to a 501c(3) organization or another United Way. Most collected designations are paid to charities monthly.
Q: How many agencies receive UWCM distributions of money?
A: UWCM distributes funds to more than 1,600 nonprofit health and human service agencies each year through designations and more than 100 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 designation policy?
A: A minimum donation of $100 is required for each designation, or it will revert to United Way of Central Maryland. Designation must be to a 501c(3) organization or another United Way. A 5% fee will be deducted on designations, subject to a $5 minimum and a cap of $500. There is no fee to designate to UWCM, our six community funds, 2-1-1 MD at UWCM, our Family Stability Initiative or our Access to Healthy Food Initiative.
If you have not provided sufficient information for your agency designation, your designation will be redirected to United Way’s Community Impact Safety Net.
If the agency you choose is ineligible and your designation is $100 or more, United Way will notify you so that you may redirect your investment. If we do not get a response, then it will revert to United Way’s Community Impact Safety Net.
If an agency you choose is eligible, but becomes ineligible at any point in the distribution schedule – such as when an agency’s non-profit status is revoked or the agency goes out of business – United Way will direct the remaining portion of your gift amounts to the United Way’s Community Impact Safety Net.
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, 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 18.31 percent in FY 2013. 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 UWCM’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 200-some 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 2015 tax year, you must donate by 9:00 p.m. on December 31, 2015. 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 2015 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.