Frequently Asked Questions

United Way provides essential health and human services to our community. The following information will give you a better understanding of the purpose and goals of United Way of Marion County.

What is United Way of Marion County?

United Way of Marion County is a local, nonprofit, volunteer-based organization governed by a local volunteer board that unites resources to help our neighbors. United Way has been a proven Community Solutions partner in Marion County for more than 55 years.

What does United Way do besides raise and allocate funds?

United Way of Marion County works in partnership with government, schools, businesses and other non-profits to create community solutions. United Way focuses on improving the community in the areas of Education, Financial Stability and Health. In addition to our funded partners, United Way focuses on early childhood with Success By 6 and early literacy called ReadingPals.  United Way also works to improve the financial stability of our community by working with families through our Strong Families program and 2-1-1, our 24-hour information and referral service. 

Who runs United Way of Marion County?
Local volunteers govern United Way and oversee every aspect of the organization. They plan annual fundraising and planned giving efforts, organize the campaign, collect contributions and recommend how dollars should be distributed. Top financial leaders in our community monitor United Way's operation and require that it be run in accordance with fiscally sound and accepted practices. United Way's accountability policy ensures that funds are prudently managed. Additionally, the organization is operated by a dedicated staff of trained professionals.

What does United Way need me?
United Way helps a variety of residents from all walks of life. Every donation really helps make a difference in the community no matter the size.  The power of your donation is that United Way can add it to others, which creates a more powerful result in our community.  Many people give because a growing number of our most vulnerable residents---abused women and children, our frail elderly, homeless families, those with handicaps and mentally ill--cannot help themselves.  You or someone you know may have helped by a United Way supported program without even knowing it.  Senior Services' Meals on Wheels, Boys & Girls Club, Early Learning Coalition's subsidized daycare and the Early Learning Coalition's subsidized daycare, and the Heart of Florida Health Center are just a few of the programs supported by the United Way of Marion County. 

Who decides what is distributed to each program?
Focus Area Investment Teams, called Vision Councils, made up of local volunteers, study community needs and agency program requests and recommends allocations that best meet Marion County's most pressing needs in the areas of Education, Income and Health. United Way's volunteer board approves all final allocations.

What are Vision Councils?
The Vision Councils are comprised of strategically recruited members who have expertise or an identified skill set benefical to the target issues of each Vision Council. Members are local experts on the issue, direct service providers, and community representatives.

How does United Way's overhead compare to other nonprofits?
United Way strives to maintain an average overhead of about 20 percent, making it among the most efficient fundraising organizations in the country. The National Charities Information Bureau and the Philanthropic Advisory Service of the Council of Better Business Bureaus report that "reasonable" fund-raising and administrative costs may be as much as 35 percent of a nonprofit's budget. For more information, visit the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance website at www.give.org or www.Guidestar.org.

Does my gift stay here in Marion County?

Yes, your gift supports local programs in your community unless you tell us otherwise. Our Contributor Choice program offers you both flexibility and control of your gift. Community Care means your dollars do the most good for the most people, Targeted Care allows you to ask that your gift is invested in programs in one or more Community Solutions areas, and with Specific Care you may designate contributions to one or more specific partner agencies, unaffiliated agencies that serve Marion County residents or even other United Ways. Your designation does not affect an agency's allocation.

Can I choose how my contribution is used?

The contribution may be designated directly to a specific agency. The agency may be either a funded agency of United Way or one not affiliated with United Way. However, the following restrictions apply: The agency must have a tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service under 501 (c) (3), its primary purpose must be in the health and human services field, and it must serve Marion County residents. The contributor may also designate another United Way to be the recipient of the gift.

Specific Care designations are subject to fundraising, management and general costs of 15%. It is the current policy of our United Way not to transmit names of Specific Care contributions to specified agencies unless requested by the contributor. United Way will transmit agency acknowledgments to other contributors if the agency requests that this be done.

What if I don't support one or more of the United Way affiliated agencies?

Upon your request, designated agencies will be excluded from receiving your contribution.

What requirements must United Way agencies meet?

They must be tax-exempt and and governed by a volunteer board while providing essential human services to the community. Agencies must also undergo an annual independent financial audit and meet reasonable standards of fiscal responsibility and efficiency.

What if I or someone I know needs assistance?

United Way partners with the Heart of Florida United Way in Orlando to provide a free community resource line 2-1-1.  This information and referral service can assist Marion County residents with finding community agencies that can help residetns during a time of need.

What is the relationship with United Way Worldwide?

United Way of Marion County is a local, autonomous organization. United Way Worldwide serves sovereign United Ways by providing training, resources, research, and consulting services. One percent of annual revenue is paid to United Way Worldwide for these services.

Please call us at 352-732-9696 if you have any other questions.

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