FAQs

What is United Way?

United Way is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) agency that brings people together to help our community reach its full potential. We partner with local nonprofits, businesses, government and social service agencies to address our community’s most pressing needs.

Our mission is uniting caring people to build pathways out of poverty, thereby improving individuals and the community.

What does United Way do?

We serve the five counties that make up Eastern Maine, making our footprint the largest of any United Way in Maine.  The money we raise here stays here, serving over 30 agencies and sustaining more than 50 programs and initiatives.  Together, we’re improving the lives of over 50,000 people right here in our communities. United Way agencies strengthen families, provide access to early childhood education, keep seniors active and involved, provide supports for at-risk youth, help people with disabilities, build safer communities, provide basic needs, prevent violence, and more.

What is the role of United Way in this community?
United Way’s role in the community continues to evolve. While United Way has historically been a solely fundraising entity, United Way has expanded to a truly unique position to recruit, convene, and collaborate with the right people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise, and resources needed to get things done. Few, if any, organizations are able to span private business, nonprofit, government, and school systems the way United Way can to create a network of donors, advocates, and volunteers focused on a specific goal such as ensuring children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
Who runs United way of Eastern Maine?

United Way of Eastern Maine is run by volunteers. The United Way of Eastern Maine Board of Directors includes volunteers from all parts of the community who provide the governance of the organization. The Board establishes policy and sets the strategic direction that United Way staff implement and follow.

Why should I give?

Giving to United Way maximizes your charitable investment.  Through volunteer hours, services provided, grants and contracts, we are able to match every dollar raised 4 to 1.  Each of the agencies that receive our funding is thoroughly evaluated on a consistent reporting schedule to ensure they are delivering on their promises.  Your gift is also tax deductible; keep a copy of your pay stub or check as proof of your donation.

Why should I give to United Way instead of directly contributing to an agency?

A gift to United Way’s Community Fund is an investment in your community that supports local programs and partnerships that are helping the elderly to stay active, increasing community education resources, assisting people with disabilities to be independent, meeting basic needs of individuals impacted by crisis and providing support to individuals transitioning to self-sufficiency.  Community fundraising costs would more than double if every agency had to raise the funds United Way provides. Please support agencies you know, but also consider a “gift” to United Way for the entire community network of services.  Every 2 years, United Way volunteers decide where your money can have the greatest impact on our community. We need to make sure these agencies receive the resources they need to do this important work. Your gift provides direct services to over 50,000 individuals in need here in Eastern Maine.

How do we know where to focus in the community?

Every five years United Way works with our community partners, volunteers, donors, agencies, and other stakeholders in conducting a Community Mapping Process to identify the most pressing needs in Eastern Maine.  This process not only identifies the issues, but tells us who is already working to address these issues and shows what needs other funders are already supporting in our area.  The results allow us to make measurable changes in the community by focusing our funding, volunteer time, and other resources for the greatest impact.  As we positively impact the identified issues, and as the needs of the community change, so will our focus.  We are committed to staying at the leading edge of the issues, allowing us to make true and sustainable improvements in the place we all call home.

 

How can I donate?

If you wish to make a financial contribution to the United Way of Eastern Maine you can click the donation button on our homepage or click here.

How can I volunteer?

UWEM offers support in connecting individuals and groups to volunteer opportunities and community drives.  If you need assistance in finding volunteer opportunities check out our online listing volunteer.unitedwayem.org, our online matching software, or call us at 941-2800.

Are contributions to United Way tax-deductible?

United Way of Eastern Maine is a federally registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation. As such, donations to the United Way are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by an individual’s or corporation’s circumstances. Donors who contribute $100 or more by check to United Way will receive an acknowledgment from United Way. A copy of the cancelled check and the acknowledgement together act as evidence of a donation for purpose of a tax return. Those contributing through payroll deduction in their workplace should keep a copy of their signed pledge card and maintain their last pay stub of the tax year or Form W-2 from their employer that summarizes the amount withheld for the United Way during their tax year. In the event that goods or services of more than a nominal value are received in exchange for a gift (such as buying an auction item), only the donation in excess of the value of the good or service is considered to be tax deductible. Donors are encouraged to consult their own tax professionals to determine the extent to which their donations are tax-deductible in their own circumstances.

Who decides where my money goes?

We encourage community members like you to join us in reviewing all funding applications from local agencies and help us decide how to award funds.  These volunteers form panels that rate the ability of each agency to impact community needs.  The results of these assessments, combined with available funding, are used to determine the dollars each program receives.  The United Way Board, which is also made up of local volunteers, is instrumental in guiding strategic decisions governing the investment of staff time and resources.  Community involvement ensures the best possible outcome for programming and initiatives based on our most recent Community Mapping report.

How can I be sure my contribution is well managed and well spent?

One area that differentiates United Way is our commitment to accountability and validation of our partner agencies through a rigorous vetting process. Results Based Accountability (RBA) changes the model from funding non-profits that do good work to measuring results of programs and services. Knowledgeable, well-trained volunteers and experts from across our community carefully screen and select the programs funded by your United Way contribution. The recommendations for funding are then reviewed and approved by our volunteer Board of Directors. This citizen review process is United Way’s assurance that contributions are being responsibly managed and monitored. UWEM distributes, as part of its annual report, a condensed version of its financials each year and welcomes questions and comments from donors and the general public regarding any aspect of our fund raising, investment process or management.

What is United Way of Eastern Maine’s overhead rate?

Our 10 year running average for overhead (administrative and fundraising costs) is 17% which is half of what the Better Business Bureau says it should be for an organization our size.

Will my money go outside of this community?

99% of money raised in Eastern Maine stays in Eastern Maine unless you – the donor – request that it be sent to another United Way or nonprofit in another community. The remaining 1% of our campaign revenue is paid to United Way Worldwide (UWW) in the form of dues which provides us with a wealth of knowledge, training and assistance for operating our local United Way.

How is this United Way connected to other United Ways?

The United Way of Eastern Maine is independent and self-governing. The money you contribute stays here to help residents in our five-county area. We are not connected to other United Ways except through “best practices” sharing with United Ways of Maine and United Way Worldwide in Alexandria, Virginia. Our local Board of Directors manages the fundraising and distribution of money raised here and assumes responsibility for the integrity and stewardship of our operations.

What programs are supported by United Way of Eastern Maine?

The United Way of Eastern Maine helps to fund 53 programs from 33 partnering agencies, Click here to see the full list of programs supported by UWEM.

Why isn’t __________ a partnered agency?

Many worthwhile agencies that help people may not meet United Way guidelines. Each agency must apply for admission and go through a formal review process by community volunteers. Some agencies may not want the level of review or restrictions in fundraising that are required by United Way. Others may feel they can raise enough funds on their own.

Does United Way support the Boy Scouts?

The United Way of Eastern Maine is willing to fund any program run by a 501(c)3 in our five county region that meets our funding criteria and guidelines. Learn more about our funding process and criteria here.

Does United Way support Planned Parenthood?

The United Way of Eastern Maine is willing to fund any program run by a 501(c)3 in our five county region that meets our funding criteria and guidelines. Learn more about our funding process and criteria here.

I’d like to request funding for my agency/project.

To request funding for an agency or project visit our Apply for Funding page or click the link here.

Why do some agencies charge fees for services?

Operating an agency requires more money than United Way and other sources cover. Fees charged by an agency are based on ability to pay. Agencies also help those who cannot pay. That’s why your United Way contribution is so important to so many people.

How can I get help for myself or someone else?

United Way proudly supports 2-1-1 Maine, a referral service that will connect you to an agency to help you. Call 2-1-1 Maine for information and referral to health and human services in your area. 2-1-1 is free and confidential and operators are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

I want my business to be involved with United Way.

There are three ways that a business can get involved with United Way.

  1. Start a workplace campaign! Click here for more info.
  2. Make a corporate donation.
  3. Volunteer your time! Click here for more info.
I feel pressured to give at work…

All contributions to United Way are completely voluntary and your personal decision. We do not support any form of pressure on donors to give or requirements regarding how much to give.