Frequently Asked Questions

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

About United Way

United Way of Calgary and Area exists to improve local lives.

United Way brings people together to solve complex social issues and improve local lives. We partner with local experts and community ambassadors, strategically invest to create lasting social change, and collaborate to ensure no one is left behind. United Way invests in programs and collaborations with common outcomes, brings people together to coordinate systems change, and designs solutions that address root causes to create lasting social change. Collectively, this work deepens community impact.

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

No. Canada has over 80 United Ways that are autonomous and operated by a voluntary Board of Directors within the communities they serve. While we are part of a worldwide movement that allows us to maximize efficiencies and cost advantages, each United Way works locally to raise funds and invests in its own, local community.

Yes. United Way works with government at all levels to create, improve, and redefine what a strong network of support looks like for our community. Part of this work can be advocating for policies that address underlying causes of social issues. These types of changes create lasting social change for vulnerable populations. 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 advocate for vulnerable people, create a more significant impact in our community, and ensure everyone has the opportunities to thrive.

Supporting United Way

Your investment with United Way stays local and is strategically invested right where you live, work, and raise your family. When you donate to United Way, you’re supporting more than one local agency or service—you’re supporting an entire local social service sector working together to improve lives and ensure people have access to the supports they need the most, when and where they need them.

Donating to United Way supports multiple agency partners, strategic programs, research, and building capacity in the sector to efficiently and effectively serve the community. As the connector to corporations, agencies, donors, volunteers, and governments, United Way is uniquely positioned to understand our community’s greatest needs and align resources to create lasting change.

United Way also holds itself accountable to our community, reporting back to donors on the impact of their donation annually.

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. Learn more in our privacy policy.

Never. No one should feel pressured to give, and everyone should be able to make their own, informed choice.

If you provided your email, you should have received your tax receipt automatically. If you can’t find it, or have any questions about your tax receipt, please contact our donor services team by calling 403-410-2576 or email [email protected].

Fundraising costs

United Way of Calgary and Area has one of the lowest fundraising costs in Canada. Currently, United Way estimates fundraising costs will be between 14 and 15 per cent. This is well below the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)’s acceptable level of 35 per cent. Administrative costs, in part, also fund initiatives that drive systems change and capacity building of the social sector—work that brings great value to our community.

United Way files an annual T3010 with Canada Revenue Agency and our financials are audited annually by an independent auditor. To see United Way’s detailed financial statements, visit

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; the latest T3010 data can be viewed on the CRA’s website.

United Way holds itself accountable to its donors, and invests donated resources as wisely, efficiently, and effectively as possible, generating a high return on community investment. We rigorously monitor and report on the impact of our investments so donors can be confident their investment is making a positive difference.

We encourage people to explore measures of success of a charity for its effectiveness, efficiencies, and transparency, in addition to its finances.

United Way relies on volunteers, collaborations, strategic partnerships, and economies of scale to find efficiencies. Corporations can also send an employee to work at United Way for four months, helping increase the number of staff every fall at no cost to United Way. Partnerships also ensure donations go further in the community through numerous sponsorships, pro-bono, and discounted rates on things like advertising and marketing materials.

Designating to other charities

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.

Funding and investment decisions

As part of United Way’s stewardship of donor and government dollars, there is a rigorous process in place to ensure the best investment of resources. Experienced staff make investment decisions based on community needs, research, and funding criteria.

All United Way investments are guided by our Board-approved Community Impact Strategy and annual reviews are conducted. For co-funded programs and initiatives, we work with other funders to minimize gaps in funding in particular issue areas and ensure services are equipped to meet the need present in the community.

Based on research, Signature Initiatives mobilize multiple stakeholders to address local challenges and create a collective response by addressing root causes of social issues. United Way is the backbone or a lead organization in all Signature Initiatives. Initiatives are cross/multi sector, large-scale, and city or province wide. United Way’s Signature Initiatives in 2023 include the All In for Youth Initiative, the Community Hubs Initiative, Planet Youth, and Healthy Aging Alberta.

Yes. Some programs are designed as pilots and specifically funded for a pre-determined duration. Other reasons for discontinuing funding may include an agency’s governance, accountability, or simply no longer requiring United Way funding due to other funding sources, such as government grants. Before ending funding, United Way always engages in discussion with the agency 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.

United Way of Calgary and AreaFrequently Asked Questions