United Way FAQ

What is United Way?

Lake Martin Area United Way is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that partners with a network of member agencies and other community partners to improve people’s lives and build a stronger community. We support agencies that work in the areas of health, education, financial stability, and basic needs.

Who runs United Way?

A volunteer Board of Directors and professional staff ensure that United Way is working effectively and efficiently to improve people’s lives. Local volunteers help keep United Way a dynamic, growing, and responsive organization. United Way is community owned, volunteer driven and staff managed.

How much of my contribution stays local?

Administrative and fundraising costs are kept low because of the large number of volunteers involved in raising and allocating funds. We work very hard to keep our overhead low so more can go back into the community and our partner agencies. Without United Way support, our partner agencies would need to spend more of their own money and energy on fundraising.

Additionally, 99% of the funds raised locally stay local to help families, neighbors, and co-workers in need. We voluntarily pay dues to our state and national associations in exchange for valuable information and referral services, marketing and branding, consultation, supplies, trainings, and so much more that our small United Way could not do on our own. 

How does an organization become a United Way partner agency?

To qualify for consideration as a United Way network partner, an agency must be recognized by the IRS as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization; led by a volunteer Board of Directors and provide health and human services to residents in Coosa and/or Tallapoosa County. Any agency that meets the basic requirements for membership consideration and believes it is providing services that align with United Way's priorities and does not duplicate an existing program partner should contact United Way (256) 329-3600 for more information.

How are campaign funds distributed/allocated?

Volunteer Board Members serve on the Allocations Committee and each year they review every agency application in detail, visit with the program agencies each summer and evaluate each application to determine if the applying agency and program are meeting the needs of our community. Each agency applies for what they need to run their agency/program. Funding is not guaranteed from year to year and agencies must re-apply every year. Funds are allocated based on the projected amount raised for the campaign and the request from the agency. The Allocations Committee looks at each agency/program's efficiency, results and how it meets our community's needs. Our United Way is committed to investing your donations where they will have the greatest impact.

What are the standards for partner agencies?

Partner agencies must meet strict standards of governance, program effectiveness, and financial accountability; they are evaluated annually during the Allocations process and must submit quarterly performance reports and success stories. 

What is the value of giving to United Way when I can donate directly to an agency?

With over 35 years of experience, the Lake Martin Area United Way focuses on people and the issues most important to the communities we serve in Coosa and Tallapoosa Counties with a focus in the areas of health, education, financial stability and basic needs. Partner agencies and programs funded by our United Way have a broad reach – touching over 20,000 lives annually across our service counties.

When you give to United Way, you are investing in collaborative, innovative and results-focused programs and initiatives that coordinate the work of local programs, service providers and community stakeholders across Coosa and Tallapoosa counties who are working to meet our community's most pressing needs. 

When you give to United Way, our partner agencies are able to use United Way allocations as matching funds for state, federal, and private grants-something a direct donation can't do. Because our member agencies don't need to spend as much money fundraising, more money goes to providing valuable and needed services to the community. 

Can I designate a particular agency to receive my donation?

Yes absolutely! However, when you give to United Way's general campaign fund, we are able to address a wide range of community issues with your gift. We do however allow contributors to be directed to a specific partner agency or to another United Way in another county if you so choose as indicated on our pledge cards.

I know someone who couldn't get help from United Way. Why?

The Lake Martin Area United Way does not provide direct service. We partner with local, experienced nonprofits to provide services and support to our community. If someone was unable to get assistance from a United Way partner agency, most likely, the person asked for a service the agency couldn't provide or went to the wrong agency for the services needed. Eligibility guidelines are sometimes dictated by government regulations or other funding sources. United Way is ready to look into any instance where someone feels help was unjustly refused.

Are donations to United Way tax deductible?

Yes! The Lake Martin Area United Way is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your donation is tax-deductible as allowed by current federal and state tax law.

What is Leadership Giving?

Our giving societies are made up of gifts of $500 or more to the annual campaign. Our leadership societies make it easy for you and your family to get involved and make a difference in the Lake Martin area. Membership at every level offers opportunities to address our community’s most pressing problems, engage your philanthropic spirit, and help you achieve your personal and professional goals. Other benefits of giving include increasing your knowledge of the innovative ways needs are being addressed, building your reputation as a community leader, and being recognized as such through your employer and United Way. Members of the same household may combine their gifts to participate in Leadership giving. 

  • Young Leaders Society ($500-$999)
  • Red Feather Society ($1,000-$2,499)
  • Silver Feather Society ($2,500-$4,999)
  • Gold Feather Society ($5,000-$9,999)
  • Alexis de Tocqueville Society ($10,000+)

What is your association with United Way Worldwide?

United Way Worldwide (UWW) is the leadership and support organization engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories. They provide national media advertising including television Public Service Announcements broadcast during the NFL football season. They also set national impact goals and provide brand leadership for local United Ways.

Use of the United Way logo is based on United Way Membership Requirements regarding governance and fiscal accountability. In addition, UWW conducts a vast array of research to assist member organizations in the development and implementation of their local community impact agenda.

UWW DOES NOT provide funding of any kind to any program, organizations, or any local United Way. The Lake Martin Area United Way pays 1% of our annual campaign dollars to UWW for dues. We are completely autonomous from United Way Worldwide and United Ways of Alabama — all of our decisions are made locally by our local volunteer Board of Directors. However, we voluntarily pay dues to the state and national associations in exchange for valuable information and referral services, consultation, supplies, publications, training and grant opportunities, and conferences. 

Does United Way pressure people to give?

No! We believe giving is a personal decision. Whether a person gives to United Way and how much the person gives is up to the individual. We want you to give from your heart because you believe in the mission of United Way and in helping those in your community. 

I don’t benefit, so why should I give?

You, a family member, friend or coworker may have already used the services of one or more of our partner agencies, community initiatives, and/or programs without realizing it. But we also know, we all win when children succeed in school, when families are financially stable, and when people have access to basic needs. When you support the Lake Martin Area United Way, you help to create lasting change for all in our community. You're not just giving money...you're giving opportunity to a child, financial security to a family and hope to those in need. 

What is United Way 2-1-1?

2-1-1 is your link to community resources. When you dial 2-1-1, you will be connected to a trained operator who is available 24/7/365 with access to a comprehensive database of services in our community. This three-digit hotline number can connect you with information and resources including information related to basic needs services, utility assistance, food pantries and resources, consumer help, crisis intervention, healthcare, and more.

A call to United Way 2-1-1 is free, confidential, and available 24/7! You can also text "HELP"  to 888-421-1266, call 1-888-421-1266, or visit https://www.211connectsalabama.org/ to do online searches or "Chat" with one of our Community Resource Specialists.