Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is United Way?
United Way of Cullman County is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that partners with a network of member agencies and other partners to improve people’s lives and build a stronger community. We support agencies that work in the areas of health, education, financial stability, and basic needs.
Who runs United Way?
A volunteer Board of Directors and professional staff ensure that United Way is working effectively and efficiently to improve people’s lives. Hundreds of local volunteers help keep United Way a dynamic, growing, and responsive organization. United Way is community owned, volunteer driven and staff managed.
How much of my contribution actually goes to program services?
Administrative and fundraising costs are kept very low because of the large number of volunteers involved in raising and allocating funds. United Way's overhead is less than 10%. Without United Way support, agencies would need to spend more of their own money and energy on fundraising.
How does an organization become a United Way member network partner?
To qualify for consideration as a United Way network partner, an agency must be recognized by the IRS as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization; led by a volunteer Board of Directors and provide health and human services to residents in Cullman County. Any agency that meets the basic requirements for membership consideration and believes it is providing services that align with United Way's priorities and does not duplicate an existing program partner should contact United Way (256) 739-2948 for more information.
How are campaign funds distributed?
Through the United Way Citizen Review Process, volunteers consisting of United Way Board members and other community members, review agency applications, interview staff and board members as well as tour program sites. These volunteers use a structured system to evaluate community needs, program efficiency, and review program results. This helps United Way and the community to determine where to invest donations that have the greatest impact.
What are the standards for member and non-member agencies?
Member agencies must meet strict standards of governance, program effectiveness, and financial accountability; they are evaluated regularly as part of a volunteer-driven certification process. Non-member agencies are not monitored by United Way, but we can verify their tax-exempt status.
Does United Way of Cullman County Fund Planned Parenthood or Abortions?
No. United Way of Cullman County does not fund Planned Parenthood, has never funded Planned Parenthood and will not fund Planned Parenthood in the future. No United Way in the state of Alabama funds Planned Parenthood. All United Ways are locally governed in each community and reflect the values of that community. Since each local United Way is a separate 501(c)(3) organization that is locally controlled and governed, each United Way reflects the values of that particular community. Sometimes a United Way in another city or state may fund a cause or a charity that many people in our community would not support. Their gifts, like all United Way gifts, stay in the community where they are raised. Out of nearly 1,200 local United Ways in the United States, only a small number-less than 6%, provide support to Planned Parenthood. No funds from United Way of Cullman County are currently or have ever been used to support abortion services. Fees paid to our national organization, United Way Worldwide, solely provide marketing and training support to local United Ways and does not go to fund programs, organizations, or any local United Way.
What is the value of giving to United Way when I can donate directly to an agency?
With over 40 years of experience in Cullman County, United Way focuses on people and the issues close to us: food, housing, health care, emergency services, children and youth, people with disabilities, financial stability, and older adults. Services funded by United Way have a broad reach – touching 1 in 5 community members each year. Through one donation to United Way of Cullman County, you are able to help the most people. When you give to United Way, you invest in high-quality, results-oriented programs managed by United Way’s member agencies. Nonprofits are also able to use United Way allocations as matching funds for state, federal, and private grants-something a direct donation can't do. Because our member agencies don't need to spend as much money fundraising, more money goes to services in the community. United Way also offers resources, materials, professional development opportunities, and support to strengthen the ability of all local agencies to serve their clients most effectively. Low administrative costs here and reduced fundraising costs at our member agencies mean that more money goes to services in the community.
Why do United Way funded program partners do their own fundraising activities and charge for services?
The United Way fundraising campaign does not cover any agency's entire budget. United Way funds are used for programs and services. Therefore, portions of an agency's budget need to be funded by other means, such as government contracts, fees and supplemental fundraising activities.
Can I designate a particular agency to receive my donation?
Donors can address a wide range of community issues with one gift through United Way. As an additional option, United Way allows contributors to direct all or part of their gift to a specific member or non-member agency or to a United Way in another county. Direction are on our pledge cards. In order to keep processing costs low for our donors, designated gifts must be at least $25 per organization or they will be directed to the general fund.
How much of a donation stays local?
Over 98% of your gift remains in Cullman County helping families, neighbors, and co-workers. We voluntarily pay dues to our state and national associations in exchange for valuable information and referral services, consultation, supplies, trainings, and grant opportunities. Networking with other United Ways allows us to share ideas, materials, and other resources. As always, all of our decisions are made locally by staff members and a volunteer board of directors who know this community.
Does United Way have a non-discrimination policy?
Yes, the non-discrimination policy ensures that all who would benefit from the high-quality programs of our agencies are eligible to receive those services. Member agencies cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, marital or familial status, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, nationality, age, disability, veteran status, gender identity, housing status, or any legally prohibited classification.
I know someone who couldn't get help from United Way. Why?
United Way of Cullman County does not provide direct service. We partner with local experienced nonprofits to provide services and support to our community. If someone was unable to get assistance from a United Way funded program, most likely, the person asked for a service the agency couldn't provide or went to the wrong agency for the services needed. Eligibility guidelines are sometimes dictated by government regulations or other funding sources. United Way is ready to look into any instance where someone feels help was unjustly refused.
Are donations to United Way tax deductible?
United Way of Cullman County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and your donation is tax deductible as allowed by current federal and state tax law.
What is Leadership Giving?
Our giving societies are made up of gifts of $500 or more to the annual campaign. Our leadership societies make it easy for you and your family to get involved and make a difference in Cullman County. Membership at every level offers opportunities to address our community’s most pressing problems, engage your philanthropic spirit, and help you achieve your personal and professional goals. Other benefits of giving include increasing your knowledge of the innovative ways needs are being addressed, building your reputation as a community leader, and being recognized as such through your employer and United Way. Members of the same household may combine their gifts to participate in Leadership giving.
Builders Society ($500-$999)
Red Feather Society ($1,000-$1,999)
Silver Feather Society ($2,000-$3,499)
Gold Feather Society ($3,500-$4,999)
Platinum Feather Society ($5,000-$9,999)
Tocqueville Society ($10,000-)
What is your association with United Way Worldwide?
United Way Worldwide is the leadership and support organization engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories. It provides national media advertising including television Public Service Announcements broadcast during the NFL football season. It also sets national impact goals and provides brand leadership for local United Ways. Use of the United Way logo is based on United Way Membership Requirements regarding governance and fiscal accountability. In addition, United Way Worldwide conducts a vast array of research to assist member organizations in the development and implementation of their local community impact agenda. United Way Worldwide DOES NOT provide funding of any kind to any program, organizations, or any local United Way. United Way of Cullman County pays 1% of its annual campaign dollars to United Way Worldwide for dues. We are completely autonomous from United Way Worldwide and Alabama United Ways—all of our decisions are made locally. However, we voluntarily pay dues to the state and national associations in exchange for valuable information and referral services, consultation, supplies, publications, training and grant opportunities, and conferences. Networking with other United Ways allows us to share ideas, materials, and other resources. Over 98% of your gift remains in Cullman County helping families, neighbors, and co-workers.
Does United Way pressure people to give?
No! We believe giving is a personal decision. United Way has a strong policy against coercion. Whether a person gives to United Way and how much the person chooses to give is up to the individual. United Way of Cullman County does not support the use of threats or coercion of any kind.
I don’t benefit, so why should I give?
You, a family member, friend or coworker may have already used the services of United Way of Cullman County partner agencies, initiatives, and programs without realizing it. But we also know, we all win when children succeed in school, when families are financially stable, and when people have access to basic needs. When you support United Way of Cullman County, you help to create lasting change for all in our community.
What is United Way 2-1-1?
Your link to community resources. When you dial 2-1-1, you will be connected to a trained operator who is available 24/7 to access to a comprehensive database with services in our community. This three-digit hotline number can connect you with information and resources including information related to basic needs services, childcare services, consumer help, volunteer opportunities, crisis intervention, healthcare, and more. A call to United Way 2-1-1 is free, confidential, and available 24/7! Text "HELP" 888-421-1266 or visit 211connectsalabama.org to do online searches or "Chat" with one of our Community Resource Specialists.