Frequently Asked Questions

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

United Way of Calgary and Area improves lives locally. We are a social impact organization that brings together agencies, donors, corporations, volunteers, and government to create lasting social change in the communities we serve. We lead key initiatives, build collaborations, convene on local issues, support and invest in the social services sector, and advocate for policies and system level change. With the caring support of thousands of donors, we connect a vast system of supports and services with the common goal of helping people overcome poverty, setting kids up for success, and building strong communities.

Your investment with United Way stays local and is strategically invested right where you live, work, and raise your family. Your gift improves lives: it ensures people in our community have access to the supports they need the most, when and where they need them. Your investment helps people overcome poverty, helps kids succeed, and strengthens neighbourhoods. We believe that these are critical components to realizing our vision of a resilient and caring community where everyone thrives. United Way is committed to a rigorous measurement process with annual reporting, and we generate high return on community investment.

Yes. The majority of United Way’s work centers on partnering with many organizations in order to address immediate needs, and underlying causes of social issues. While the ultimate goal is to prevent these issues from happening in the first place, United Way recognizes that policy barriers exist at municipal, provincial, and federal levels. By advocating for change around these social policies, United Way can have a more significant impact in our community.

All donations to United Way stay local, where they are invested in agencies, initiatives, and programs in the Calgary area—including Airdrie, Chestermere, Cochrane, High River, Okotoks, and Strathmore.

Canada has over 90 United Ways that are autonomous and operated by a voluntary Board of Directors within the communities they serve. Each United Way works locally to raise funds and invest in improving lives in its community.

United Way of Calgary and Area has one of the lowest fundraising cost ratios in Canada. United Way’s three-year fundraising and administrative costs average 14 to 16 per cent, well below the Canada Revenue Agency’s acceptable level of 35 per cent, and well within Charity Intelligence’s reasonable range of 5 to 35 per cent. As a registered Canadian charity, United Way files a T3010 report with CRA annually, detailing all of its fundraising, related operating costs, executive compensation, and other costs. The latest CRA T3010 data can be found at www.cra-arc.gc.ca. To see United Way’s detailed financial statements, visit our Financials page.

As part of United Way’s stewardship of donor dollars, there is a rigorous process in place to ensure the best investment of resources. Experienced staff and volunteers make investment decisions based on community needs, research, and funding criteria. United Way invests to minimize duplication among programs and looks for measurable results, quality performance, and innovative approaches to solving social issues.

Yes. Some programs are designed as “pilots“—specifically funded and planned for a pre-determined duration. There are also agencies where United Way reduces or discontinues funding for other reasons. An agency may have governance issues, outcome measurement shortfall, or simply no longer require United Way funding due to other funding sources, such as government grants. Before halting funding to an agency, United Way engages in discussion to explore options that may help remedy performance or accountability issues, implement efficiency building strategies or engage United Way volunteers to assist with governance, financial management, or program delivery.

No. Every United Way event is generously sponsored by corporations or individuals who cover the costs. A complete listing of sponsors is available here.

All salaries at United Way, including senior management, are benchmarked against other Canadian non-profit organizations of similar size and scope. United Way of Calgary and Area is in compliance with the required T3010 regulatory reporting to CRA for its executive compensation, which can be viewed at here.

United Way of Calgary and Area complies with the Association of Fundraising Professional’s Donor Bill of Rights and is committed to protecting the privacy of your personal information. The information you provide is used to assist in the administration and acknowledgement of your gift, to issue tax receipts, and to fulfill your information questions. We do not release donor names unless requested by the donor. For more information, please visit our privacy policy.

Donor choice or “Donor Designation” is an added service United Way offers to its donors that allows them to direct their gift to any registered charity in Canada. United Way’s core business is about making a measurable difference by focusing on our community priorities. The time and resources devoted to processing donor choice designations are costly and take us away from dedicating time to support our core business. The $16 processing fee offsets the administration cost and ensures United Way can continue to meet the needs in our community.

No. No one should feel pressured to give, and everyone should be given the opportunity to make an informed choice.

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Sasha HullFrequently Asked Questions