There are approximately 495,000 tax?exempt/nonprofit organizations in the United States (excluding churches) that may receive tax?deductible contributions. Of those with incomes above $25,000, roughly 55,000 are classified as human service organizations and another 28,000 are health related (Hodgkinson and Weitzman, 1996). The term nonprofits refers to these health and human service organizations. The types of health and human services that nonprofit organizations provide include housing and residential care, youth development, recreation, services to children and families, employment assistance, crime and delinquency prevention, food and nutrition, and substance abuse and addiction treatment (Hodgkinson and Weitzman, 1996). However many organizations are much more than just helping the sick and feeding the poor. They help so many people in their time of needed, some through programs and others through services in the committee. There are so many different needs that people had not just the hungry and the sick.
Through a vast network of volunteers and community agencies, United Way throughout America help meet the health and human-care needs of million of people every day. United Ways 110 year history is built on the proven effectiveness of local organizations helping people in their own communities.
The United Way system includes approximately 1,400 community-based United Way organizations. Each is independent, separately incorporated, and governed by local volunteers. Through a single community-wide campaign, United Way volunteers raise funds to support local agency service providers. In total, voluntary contributions to United Way support approximately 45,000 agencies and chapters, helping millions of people from all walks of life and income groups. Apart from the government, United Way supports the greatest variety of health and human services in the country.
In 1997-1998, United Way volunteers raised $3.4 billion (Young, Hollister, and Hodgkinson, 1998). Which was used for human services ranging from disaster relief, emergency food and shelter and crisis intervention to day care, physical rehabilitation and youth development. That was 4.7 percent increase over the $3.2 billion amount raised in 1996. Because of the vast network of volunteers and the simplicity for corporate payroll deduction, administrative expenses for the largest United Way average about 13 percent of all funds raised. This low figure compares favorably with the suggested Better Business Bureau guidelines of up to 35 percent.
Each volunteer ensures that every group receiving funds are a non-profit, tax-exempt charity governed by volunteers. Each charity is to submit to an annual, independent financial audit, provide services at a reasonable cost, and maintain a policy of non-discrimination. During United Ways extensive annual citizen-review process, local experienced volunteers assess community needs and determine how to distribute funds so that donors know their money is serving the most pressing community issues and reaching the people who are most in need.
How much of the contributions reach community charities? The real advantage of United Way is its ability to raise money for the organizations it funds far less expensively than they ever hope to do. They keep fund-raising costs low, allowing nearly all of your contributions to go directly to community charities. On average, local United Ways nationwide distribute to community charities approximately 85% of the dollars raised compared with only 70% or less for other charities.
Last year United Way funded over 45,500 agencies whose programs help people who really need help. They developed programs such as promoting health and preventing diseases. Other strong programs that they developed were for the strengthening of families. They found that today parents have problem caring for a families and having a loving relationship with the children. Last year 25% of all the funds the United Way and the local United Way went to programs to help parents keep on track.
To add to the local programs local have the United Way has start, by themselves or with other agencies, many different programs nationwide. Even thou that United Way is thought as a charity they help some many people. And these are some of the nationwide programs that they fund.
Since 1983, Congress has appropriated $1.7 billion for the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program. The National Board composed of six voluntary agencies (including United Way of America) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, uses specific selection criteria to award grants to those civil jurisdictions in greatest need of help. Each jurisdiction convenes a local board, similar in composition to the National Board, which selects agencies to receive grants. In 1997 the National Board accomplished five things with appropriation of $100 million. They provided more than 85 million meals at an average per capita cost of 46 cents. Also provided 3.9 million nights of shelter at an average per capita cost of $5.84. Prevented more than 137,264 eviction through rent/mortgage assistance and paid more than 180,411 utility bills, allowing families to remain in their homes. Directly funded almost 10,500 charitable organizations and government agencies to provide these emergency services. And last awarded grants to 2,486 jurisdictions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories.
In 1991, United Way of America staff members received the Federal Emergency Management Agencys Outstanding Public Service Award for devotion to the goal of a successful public/private partnership, the realization of that goal and dedication to alleviating homelessness (Emergency Food and Shelter Program, 1998).
United Way developed a program named Project Blueprint, it was to address the need for greater involvement of African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and Native Americans as volunteer leaders. The initiative focuses on preparing people of color for volunteer leadership positions on United Way member agency and other community human-service agency, boards and committees. In 1987, a three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation supported a pilot initiative in 21 communities. Between 1987 and 1997, more than 3,500 men and women of color were connected with volunteer leadership experiences (United Way 1998). 65 local communities have benefited from the skills and perspectives of a diverse volunteer corps while people of color have had rewarding opportunities to contribute to the well being of their communities.
United Way formed a community service that was designated to meet those with needs called Information and Referral (I&R) services. Local United Way organizations operated and supported more than 500 I&R services, in communities nationwide. At each of I&R services are trained specialist that are responsible for coordinating many diverse but integrated activities. They assist callers in need by referring them to agencies that provide help with housing/rent, utility payment, food, clothing, and etc. Act as advocated, when necessary, for those who are unable to represent themselves. And provided training to other agencies and organizations.
Many I&Rs have special outreach programs to expand services to area communities. In San Antonio, Texas, I&R services were expanded through a United Way at Work initiative to reach more than 48,000 individuals at 35 companies and at Kelly Air Force Base (Information and Referral Services 1997). In Tucson, Arizona, the I&R service started a program to help students, parents, teachers and school administrators deal with teenage suicide as a growing community problem.
USA Weekend had its annual Make Difference Day, which is the most encompassing national day of helping others. The celebration of neighbors helping neighbors is held every year on the fourth Saturday of every October. Millions have participated and many organizations are also involved, which includes United Way, Salvation Army, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, etc. In 1997, 1,300,000 people cared enough about their communities to volunteer on that day (USA Weekend, 1998). They accomplished thousands of projects in hundreds of towns and helping millions. Roughly $2.5 million was donated to this cause. Wal-Mart, Gannett Foundation, VISTA, KaBoom, and even United Way donated many grants.
So today United Way cant be considered as a charity or an organization that help the sick and poor. They help to promote health and preventing disease worldwide, not just nationwide. They invest in programs they help strengthen families with relationship with the spouse. Helping the youth with drug abuse and addiction and youth suicide. They try to get people involved to help others, even if its just for one day out of the year or even if it means to volunteering their life. Many think of them as a friend when they need them most and one that cares enough to help them help.
Hodgkinson, V., and Weitzman, M.S. Nonprofit Almanac 1996-1998:
Dimensions of the Independent Sector. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996.
Young, D.R., Hollister, R.M., and Hodgkinson, V.A. Governing, Leading, and Managing Nonprofit Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.
Emergency Food and Shelter Program. http://www.efsp.unitedway.org 1998
United Way. United Way Fact Sheets. http://www.unitedway.org 1998
USA Weekend. Make a Difference Day. Volume 14. 1998
Information and Referral Services. Information and Referral Services. 1998