What is the United Way of Central Louisiana?
The United Way of Central Louisiana is a nonprofit local partnership or coalition that links donors and helping agencies with businesses, government, and other key players to build a stronger central Louisiana. It's all of us working together to help children succeed, to strengthen families, and to help those in crisis. We typically raise over $1,200,000 for programs right here in our community.
Where does the money go?
All donations stay here in central Louisiana. They go to fund 20 programs and services at the 15 local partner agencies in our community. The United Way of Central Louisiana is an entirely independent organization, not a "branch" or a "chapter." We don't send donations to other cities or states, and we don't receive funds from other places unless donors from those places direct their gifts here. One percent of our campaign goes as dues to the United Way Worldwide (sort of like our trade association), but we receive services in return that would cost much more elsewhere, so even that's a good deal.
What is United Way Worldwide (formerly United Way of America)?
United Way Worldwide (UWW) is in essence our trade association. In exchange for one percent of the funds we raise, they provide us with invaluable services such as training opportunities, research, and connections to other United Ways around the world. If we had to purchase those services elsewhere, they would cost much more. UWW does not fund individual agencies anywhere. They exist only to promote and serve 1,800 member United Ways. In fact, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, UWW gave us a grant of $150,000 that we used to open and run a multi-agency evacuee center for two years. That represented over ten years of our dues all by itself! That's a great investment.
Where did United Ways come from?
The first United Way got started in Denver, Colorado in 1887. There was a depression going on, long before any form of government assistance. Four clergy got together to work something out - a Congregational pastor, a Roman Catholic priest, an Episcopal rector, and a rabbi. In each congregation, people needed help, and others could help and wanted to help but didn't know who or how. It was chaotic to say the least. The clergy decided that there had to be a way to organize the chaos, so they did - and they called it the "Charity Organization Society." Not a jazzy name, but it was descriptive! The model worked so well that other communities formed their own Charity Organization Societies, each in a way that fit their local community.
The movement grew into the Community Chest - remember those little yellow cards in the Monopoly game? That was the United Way in the 1920s, when the game was invented. The movement continued to grow and evolve until in 1954, the United Fund of Alexandria and Pineville was established. It grew to cover all of Rapides Parish by 1963, and by the 1980s it provided funding for services all over central Louisiana. Today the United Way of Central Louisiana funds services in eight parishes: Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Rapides, Vernon, and Winn. We're still a local, independent organization, created by and for central Louisiana.
Who governs the United Way of Central Louisiana?
A volunteer Board of Directors, comprised entirely of Central Louisiana residents, governs the United Way of Central Louisiana. (See the list of Board members under the "About Us" tab.) Volunteers assess community needs and resources, review funded programs, plan and organize the annual fund-raising campaign, and collect contributions. These volunteers are supported by a small professional staff (see the "Staff" page under the "About Us" Page).
Is the United Way accountable to donors?
Yes! Exceptionally so - the United Way of Central Louisiana is one of the most accountable nonprofit organizations you will find. Our volunteer Finance Committee (known as the Organizational Excellence Committee) is composed of financial and management experts from several local companies. They ensure that fiscal controls are in place, and that fiscal decisions are sound. In addition, we are audited by an outside firm every year. We are proud that we have received the highest possible ratings each year for our financial management and reliability. Copies of our audit and IRS Form 990 are available on this site (see the Accountability tab). We go much further than financial accountability, however. Dozens of volunteers review funded agencies to make sure that donations are used effectively as well as efficiently. We work hard to make every dollar count!
What area does the United Way of Central Louisiana serve?
UWCL funds services in eight parishes around central Louisiana: Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Rapides, Vernon, and Winn. The combined square mileage of these parishes approaches that of the state of Massachusetts! While our most rural parishes do not always have agency offices located within their boundaries, most services are available in most parishes. In the case of shelters, residents may have to travel to Rapides Parish for help. If you would like to see the numbers of people helped in each parish, just contact us and we'll get it to you.
Is my contribution to United Way tax deductible?
Yes. Your gift is tax deductible if you itemize deductions. A receipt is not necessary unless you pay $250 or more at one time. If you need a receipt, no matter what the amount, contact our office and we will send one to you right away, along with our warmest thanks.
Does United Way pressure people to give?
No!! Giving is a personal decision, and our United Way has a strong policy against coercion. We think there are many positive reasons to donate, and we discourage employers from forcing their employees to give.
What are United Way's overhead costs?
About 15 cents on the dollar, though it can vary slightly from year to year, depending on the amount raised. These are our management and general costs plus our costs for fundraising. In other words, about 85 cents of every dollar goes to actual services and programs. That's money that wouldn't be available to local agencies if not for the United Way fundraising drive.
I heard that United Way funds abortions. Is that true?
No. We never have, a few rumors to the contrary. In fact, employees of the Catholic Diocese of Alexandria have supported our United Way for many years, and Bishop Ronald Herzog served for six years on our Board.