FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about United Way? Check the list of frequently asked questions below or feel free to contact us.

What is United Way?

United Way is an international, not-for-profit organization and has more than 90 local United Ways across Canada. United Way is known as Centraide in Québec, Ottawa and other French-speaking communities in Canada.

Each United Way-Centraide raises money and allocates funds locally to support its community. Each United Way-Centraide is governed by an autonomous, local, volunteer Board of Directors that, with other volunteers and staff, helps build caring, vibrant communities and responds to a broad range of human needs.

What geographic area does United Way of the Alberta Capital Region Serve?

United Way serves the Edmonton Census Metropolitan area including Edmonton, the City of Fort Saskatchewan, Sherwood Park, Strathcona County, the City of St. Albert, the City of Leduc, the County of Leduc, the City of Spruce Grove, the Town of Stony Plain and the County of Parkland.

Why does United Way of the Alberta Capital Region focus on poverty?

In the Alberta Capital Region, 135,000 people live in poverty – nearly 42,000 of them are children. It is the most debilitating social issue we are dealing with today. It strips people of self-esteem, robs children of their true potential and causes families to lose hope. Poverty takes a heart-breaking personal toll on individuals and families and a monetary toll on our economy.

United Way works with the largest network of social services partners in the region to provide immediate help and longer term solutions so that no one must face these challenges alone. Together, we are moving past managing the symptoms of poverty and working to end it.

United Way investments support community members in three focus areas:

  • Break the Cycle – Ensuring children succeed through the school years. (Examples include: parenting supports, in-school nutrition, mentoring, school supplies, family counselling.)
  • Lift People Out – Helping people build job skills and financial stability. (Examples include: job and skills training, counselling, financial literacy training.)
  • Provide a Safety Net – Supporting basic needs and personal well-being. (Examples include: food and housing supports, family therapy, distress line support, shelters, addictions counselling.)

To learn more about United Way investments, please visit www.myunitedway.ca/our-work.

Why should I give to United Way of the Alberta Capital Region?

By supporting United Way, you have the ability to change the lives of local families and individuals struggling in poverty and help prevent others from falling into it.

United Way helps our social service partners keep their costs low by managing their key fundraising efforts. This allows front-line agencies to spend less time on fundraising and more time delivering services. With the largest network of funded partners in the region – 50+ social sector partners delivering 100+ programs and services, we bring groups together to maximize efficiencies and provide a network of services. This means your donation goes farther and wider than any other charitable investment you can make.

100% Local – All funds raised in the Alberta Capital Region are spent right here in this community, ensuring local families get the support they need, when they need it.

Lasting Solutions – United Way funds 100+ programs that lift people out of poverty and prevent those at risk from falling into it.

Results You Can See – We set clear targets and share the results, showing how your contribution to United Way changes lives.

United Way of the Alberta Capital Region is also one of the top-rated charities in Canada: https://www.moneysense.ca/save/financial-planning/canadas-top-rated-charities-2019-top-100/

How can I volunteer with United Way of the Alberta Capital Region?

United Way of the Alberta Capital Region offers a variety volunteer opportunities. Options include:

  • Get involved in a workplace campaign. For workplace campaign information, please email: campaignsupport@myunitedway.ca or call 780-990-1000.
  • Give back to the community through United Way’s Community Engagement programs. Customized engagement opportunities are available for employees and individuals to learn about United Way’s work and the needs of our community. Community Engagement programs include:
  • Poverty Simulations (myunitedway.ca/poverty)
  • Brain Architecture Game (www.myunitedway.ca/brain-game)
  • Days of Caring (myunitedway.ca/days-of-caring/)
    • Agency Volunteer Opportunities
    • Tools for School
    • Coats for Kids & Families
    • Kid Kits
    • Care Kits
  • Community Impact Tours
  • Community Impact Speakers Series

Call 780-990-1000 to ask about volunteer opportunities.

What are the tax benefits of making a donation?

Canada offers some of the most generous tax benefits in the world for charitable contributions, and Alberta is a provincial leader in this area as well. As a result, as much as 50% of the value of your gift comes back to you at tax time.

If, for instance, you make a Leadership donation of $1,200, your combined provincial and federal tax credits will come out to $550.

Why would I give through United Way when I can give directly to an agency?

Poverty is not something that can be solved by looking at needs in isolation. United Way looks at the big picture in order to deliver a coordinated network of services to address a range of needs for children and families who are struggling. It does this by bringing together partners in business, government, non-profits, school boards and others, to develop long-term strategies to solve our community’s toughest social issues. This big picture approach helps move beyond managing the symptoms and instead creates lasting pathways out of poverty.

Additionally, United Way raises funds so that agencies can focus on delivering life changing programs instead of fundraising.

What initiatives does United Way lead?

United Way leads community programs and initiatives that provide education to participants and support to families in the Capital Region every day.

What are the ways that I can give?

Here is how you can contribute to United Way and support your community:

  • Workplace campaign: If your workplace runs a United Way Campaign, you can fill out a pledge card (electronic or paper) available through your workplace employee campaign chair (ECC).
  • Individual donations can be made online: www.myunitedway.ca.
  • Start your own personal fundraiser with family and friends: https://www.myunitedway.ca/take-action
  • Leave a legacy gift to United Way: www.myunitedway.ca/legacy
  • Start an endowment through the Tomorrow Fund: myunitedway.ca/tomorrow-fund
  • Host a fundraising event: Support United Way through events that collect monetary gifts or collect items of need such as school supplies for the Tools for School program or winter clothing for the Coats for Kids & Families. For details contact: 780-990-1000.

Learn more about giving options at www.myunitedway.ca/givingoptions.

How are funded agencies evaluated?

Funding applications are reviewed by Focus Area Volunteer Impact Councils or Impact Committees, which are made up of knowledgeable and experienced individuals from diverse backgrounds who are well informed about our work and contribute valuable expertise and insights into the investment decision-making process. Each Impact Council is co-chaired by a community member and a United Way representative.

Applications are reviewed with the following criteria:

  • Alignment with United Way Priorities – does the program continue to fit with United Way priorities as determined by the changing needs of the region?
  • Organizational Stability – is the agency positioned, financially and structurally, to leverage United Way resources effectively and efficiently?
  • Program Effectiveness – did the agency deliver on agreed-upon results and did they demonstrate positive impact in the community?
  • Accessibility – is the program or initiative accessible to those it intends to serve and/or have steps been taken to address barriers?
  • Resource Management – does the agency review financial statements on a regular basis and did they submit to an audit or review engagement in the past year?
  • Need for Funding – does the agency demonstrate a practical need for United Way dollars and is the proposed budget realistic?
  • Agency Support – has the agency helped to promote United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and have they adhered to relevant policies and procedures?
  • Follow-up from previous report recommendations – has the agency addressed outstanding items identified by United Way staff and/or volunteer committees from past reviews?

Once approved for funding, agencies report to United Way and meet with United Way representatives annually to ensure that the above criteria are maintained.

United Way has a new three-year Community Investment Strategy (2018-2021), which streamlines our agenda and focuses our efforts on seven, more clearly defined, desired results. 

These include:

  • Children have age appropriate skills and development in the early years (birth-5 years).
  • Children and youth have the community supports they need to succeed in school.
  • Individuals have the capacity to obtain and retain employment that provides for basic economic security.
  • People have the knowledge, skills and resources needed to attain financial stability.
  • People are able to access and maintain their basic needs.
  • Individuals and families have access to comprehensive mental health supports.
  • Individuals and families can access a network of community supports to address their needs.

Does United Way ever discontinue funding to an agency or program during a contract period?

Yes. United Way will occasionally remove or reduce funding to a program based on the results of the annual review outlined above. Program funding may also be changed based on dollars available from the United Way’s fundraising campaigns.

When will I get my charitable tax receipt?

To maximize efficiencies and provide a better service to our donors, where possible, all charitable giving will be consolidated on one receipt per donor. Tax receipts for all donations made in the calendar year will be distributed to donors by February the following year.

If you have any questions, please contact our Finance department at 780-990-1000 or donorservices@myunitedwa.ca. For additional information about receipting, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.

Please note: If your gift to United Way was part of a workplace campaign by payroll deduction, you will not receive a separate tax receipt. The donation will be recorded on your T4 statement from your employer.

How do I cancel my Pre-Authorized Debit (PAD)?

You may cancel your PAD authorization at any time, subject to providing 21 days notice. Simply contact our office at 780-990-1000 or email donorservices@myunitedway.ca.

You have certain recourse rights if any debit does not comply with the PAD agreement. For example, you have the right to receive reimbursement for any debit that is not authorized or is not consistent with the PAD Agreement. To obtain more information on your recourse rights, contact your financial institution or visit www.payments.ca.

Can I designate my donation to other charities?

Yes. The option of designating to specific agencies is an added service United Way provides to its donors. Agencies must be Canadian registered charities.

United Way retains 10 percent of designated gifts to recover costs associated with this service. This designation fee is capped at $100 per designation for one-time contributions paid by cash, cheque, pre-authorized debits or gift of stock. The fee cap does not apply to designations made by credit card or contributions paid at later dates.

How does United Way decide where to invest my donation?

United Way determines where funds will be invested by conducting research to find needs and opportunities in the community. With this understanding, we are able to make sure funds are distributed to the most urgent issues that exist for people in the Alberta Capital Region. Please visit myunitedway.ca/investments for a list of our 100 programs.

Where can I find information on the impact United Way and partners are making in the community?

United Way and partner agencies regularly track the impact and progress we are making together in the region. Results are covered in annual reports, promotional and educational documentation, and online.

A broad selection of the latest results under each of United Way’s three focus areas (Break the Cycle, Lift People Out, Provide a Safety Net) can be found on our website. Please visit www.myunitedway.ca/our-work or read the latest Report to the Community at www.myunitedway.ca/annual-report.

What are United Way costs?

United Way’s fundraising costs are kept within the maximum 20% limit set by our Board of Directors. This means a minimum of 80 cents of every dollar raised by United Way is invested in delivering strategic programs and services. This is more efficient than the suggested standard of the CRA, which is 20 to 35%.

What does United Way do to keep costs low?

Approximately 5,000 volunteers in the Alberta Capital Region help United Way carry out its community programs and projects. During the campaign season from September to December, approximately 25 temporary employees and company Sponsored Campaign Representatives assist with our fundraising work. This helps United Way leverage resources and decrease overhead costs.

We also bring together community partners throughout the region to share strategies, eliminate duplicate work, and increase cost efficiency by working in collaboration.

Additionally, United Way events are sponsored by corporations who generously offer to cover event costs.

There are also regulatory bodies in place that ensure we are operating to the highest standards:

  • Imagine Canada is the national umbrella for charities and provides standards for charitable organizations to manage and report their financial affairs and fundraising responsibly through the Ethical Code Program.
  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires all registered Canadian charities to be accountable, transparent and responsible stewards of the dollars raised in order to maintain charitable status. CRA also requires that all charities report salary ranges that are subsequently published on the CRA website for public review.
  • Visit the CRA website for more information:
  1. On the Home page, click the Taxes tab and then click on Charities and giving.
  2. Click on List of Charities and other qualified donors.
  3. Click on Charities.
  4. Type in the charity name field, then click the Search.
  5. Scroll through the list and click on the name of the charity of interest.

United Way of the Alberta Capital Region encourages all individuals to contact their charities of interest and learn the costs associated with each in order to make an informed decision.

When you make a contribution to United Way, we promise to administer it with great care. We set high standards for our conduct in all areas of our organization and continuously measure our performance.

It is up to us to ensure that our donors remain informed and confident that their contributions will be well managed and result in positive impact.

 

  • Our volunteer Board of Directors conduct regular, in-depth reviews of United Way’s financial and community investment performance.
  • United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, as part of United Way Canada – Centraide, is a flagship member of Imagine Canada’s Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Code.
  • In addition, we follow internal transparency, accountability and financial reporting guidelines which are intended to be defendable, acceptable, consistent, transparent and simple in providing standardized reporting by United Ways across Canada.
  • United Way of the Alberta Capital Region is externally audited to ensure that we operate in a fiscally responsible manner.

Review United Way of the Alberta Capital Region’s Reports to Community and audited financial statements at: www.myunitedway.ca/annual-report.

What practices does United Way have in place to ensure financial accountability and transparency?

Does organized labour support United Way?

Yes. In Edmonton, organized labour was a founding partner of United Way. United Way and labour work together to promote and co-operate in the establishment of joint labour-management campaigns in the workplace. For more information, please contact our office at 780-990-1000 or go to www.myunitedway.ca/labour.

Some of our agencies have religious origins, such as the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and Jewish Family Services.

The services and programs offered by these agencies are open to all individuals regardless of religious affiliation.

We believe all peoples deserve equal opportunity. Before an agency receives funding, we ensure that agencies do not exclude people from participating in agency affairs or programs by virtue of religion.

Does United Way fund agencies with religious affiliations?

How do I obtain additional information on United Way’s privacy policies and procedures?

United Way is committed to protecting your privacy and does not share or sell your personal information. See our Privacy Statement at www.myunitedway.ca/privacy. For further information about our privacy policies and practices, please contact our Privacy Officer at 780-990-1000 or at privacyofficer@myunitedway.ca .

Andre PoitrasFAQ