FAQ

What is the United Way of the Southern Tier?
United Way of the Southern Tier is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) agency that works with volunteers, donors, and other organizations locally to identify and address common issues in our community. Our mission is to united and prioritize resources to improve the quality of life for every person and every family in our community. We envision a thriving community where all children have the foundation for life-long success and our collective well-being is secure.

Which counties does the United Way of the Southern Tier serve?
United Way of the Southern Tier is a regional organization, serving Chemung and Steuben counties in the Southern Tier of New York.

Who runs United Way of the Southern Tier?
All United Ways are locally run and governed in each community. Our staff works with knowledgeable, well-trained volunteers representative of our community here in Chemung and Steuben counties. A volunteer Board of Directors sets policy and strategic direction. Various volunteer committees oversee financial practices and provide counsel on operational issues. Visit our staff page to learn more about our team.

When was the United Way of the Southern Tier formed?
United Way of the Southern Tier was formed in 1993 when four entities previously operating independently of each other, consolidated into one entity to serve the people of Steuben and Chemung Counties.

What does United Way of the Southern Tier do?
United Way of the Southern Tier works with volunteers, donors, and other organizations locally to identify common issues in our community related to the success of school-aged children, as well as basic and emergency needs – the building blocks for a good quality of life.

How does United Way of the Southern Tier raise money?
Approximately 70% of the funds raised are a result of more than 200 local private and public sector companies and organizations who run workplace giving campaigns.  An additional 25% is a result of the generosity of local corporations and foundations.  Approximately 5% of our campaign is the raised by local individuals not associated with a workplace giving campaign.  

What is United Way Worldwide and how is our local United Way related to it?
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 such as television Public Service Announcements 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 of any local United Way. United Way of the Southern Tier pays 1% of its annual campaign dollars to United Way Worldwide for dues.

How are dollars raised allocated in the community?
Guided by United Way of the Southern Tier’s core investment values, we invest the non-designated annual giving moment proceeds in local human service program, where they are most needed and do the most good.

What's the difference between an non-designated and designated gift?
An non-designated gift takes advantage of United Way of the Southern Tier’s thorough, research-based program selection that gets the money to the issues and areas that need it most. This allows you to help the most people and do the most good for our entire community. A designated gift restricts your gift to a specific 501(c)3 non-profit health and human service agency. Designated gifts must be $100 or greater. Gifts of less than $100 will be directed to the general fund. These gifts will be adjusted for pledge loss and an administrative fee.

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 the Southern Tier partner agencies without realizing it. We all win when children succeed in school, when families are financially stable and when people have access to basic and emergency needs. When you support United Way of the Southern Tier, you help to create a thriving community.

How is United Way of the Southern Tier accountable to its donors?
In order to receive funding from United Way of the Southern Tier, an agency or organization must demonstrate that it is meeting strict accountability requirements:

  • Be a tax exempt, non-profit corporation
  • Be governed by a volunteer board whose members are elected and supported by trained, professional staff
  • Have an annual, independent financial audit (Agencies with under $100,000 in revenue may have an independent review.)
  • Meet reasonable standards of financial responsibility and efficiency
  • Quantify or measure the changes that the agency/program is making in the lives of the people it serves

Who is ultimately responsible for the program partners?
While United Way of the Southern Tier has standards for program partners, each organization is autonomous and is governed by a Board of Directors. The organizations determine the programs they provide to the community and their criteria for receiving services. Program partners are not funded in total by United Way of the Southern Tier dollars and may depend on service or membership fees for financial support. Frequently, organizations offer sliding fee schedules so that people who are unable to pay the total fee can be charged based on their ability to pay.

Why are some community non-profits no longer United Way of the Southern Tier program partners?
Some organizations choose to discontinue their partnership with United Way of the Southern Tier; others do not continue to meet partnership standards and are asked to exit AFTER every effort is made to help the organization meet the partnership criteria and standards.

How does an organization become funded by United Way of the Southern Tier?
United Way of the Southern Tier has a formal application process for funding health and human service agencies that involves volunteer and staff review, fiscal accountability and agency compliance with policies set by the Board of Directors. United Way enters into contractual partnerships with organizations with the objective of achieving specific outcomes that address our community goals and impact areas.

If I know someone who needs help or assistance how do I get information about what is available?
The fastest way to find out what is available in Chemung and Steuben counties is to call 2-1-1. With just one phone call to 2-1-1 by cell or landline phone, anyone who needs help can speak with a caring, highly trained person who will listen, assess their needs, offer emotional support, and get them connected to the services that could meet their needs. Call specialists have access to a vast array of community and social service resources to help meet the needs of callers.

What does it cost to run United Way of the Southern Tier?
For every dollar raised at UWST, 13.64% is spent on overhead expenses. Overhead costs include important investments non-profits make to sustain and improve their work: investments in training, planning, evaluation, internal systems, and a professional staff, as well as their efforts to raise money so they can operate their programs. Other factors that contribute to non-profit performance include transparency, governance, leadership, and results.

Is my contribution tax deductible?
YES. Under IRS guidelines, the full amount of your gift, if paid, qualifies as a deductible charitable contribution. The IRS does, however, have new guidelines for the documentation required to substantiate proof of payment:
IRS TAX SUBSTANTIATION DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS Old IRS rule: Donors could deduct contributions up to $250 without documentation. New IRS rule: No deduction of any amount without documentation. Proof of payment to be used for IRS tax substantiation include the following: If paid with: Cash - Receipt from United Way Checks or credit card - Canceled check or credit card receipt Payroll deduction - Documentation from employer that indicates amount withheld AND Copy of your Pledge Form (we recommend maintaining this with your tax files).

Does United Way of the Southern Tier pressure people to give?
NO, Giving is a personal decision. Whether a person gives to United Way of the Southern Tier and how much the person chooses to give is up to the individual. United Way of the Southern Tier does not support the use of threats or coercion of any kind.  If you have felt coerced during a United Way campaign, please contact us to ask questions and provide feedback.

I can't afford to give to United Way of the Southern Tier.
Every gift to United Way of the Southern Tier, no matter its size, makes a difference in our community. Many people find that giving through payroll deduction allows them to make a contribution that fits their budget. In addition, there are many ways you can give the gift of time through volunteering with United Way. 

I know someone who asked for help and didn't get it.
Needs always exceed the dollars available to meet them, so unfortunately, some people don't get the help they desire when needed because of limited resources.