I am asked all the time why a donation should be made to United Way instead of giving directly to a specific charity.
There are several advantages of giving through United Way. We always have allowed donors to touch many agencies by giving to United Way instead of just one. Each year before we begin fundraising, we select a set of the best human service and nonprofit organizations to be recipients of donations to United Way. One gift, no matter the amount, supports many important causes. These organizations are called United Way Community Partner Agencies.
United Way does the homework for people who want to give back to their community. Each Community Partner Agency is reviewed annually using United Ways tried and true methods of finding the best charities. Donors can rest assured a gift made to United Way will be invested in organizations that are financially solid, that have good boards of directors overseeing the operations and that have a local program that can prove it is changing and saving lives.
For donors who give through their workplace, the ability to donate via payroll deduction also is a great advantage of giving to United Way. Most donors can give more when the donation is spread out over a years worth of pay periods as opposed to writing a single check.
Another advantage of supporting United Way is the Community Partner Agencies services are coordinated toward three Impact Areas important for Southwest Colorado communities. Each Community Partner Agency falls under one of these categories: education, self-reliance or health. Coordinating services and programs toward goals under each Impact Area helps prevent duplication of work and increases collaboration among our partner agencies. Visit United Ways website to see our goals and the current set of Community Partner Agencies at www.unitedway-swco.org and click on Partners.
United Way also does other work for our community that brings additional resources to help address our local issues. For example, I am the current board president for La Plata Electric Associations Round Up Foundation.
When LPEA customers round up their bill, the Round Up Board determines where to invest those funds. Nearly $80,000 is granted each year from the Round Up Board, and United Ways knowledge of community needs and resources helps determine where those grants are made.
United Way also helps our community by promoting volunteer opportunities and by advocating for issues that affect our community. For example, there is discussion at the federal level about eliminating or capping the tax deduction for donations to charity. Your United Way has contacted our elected officials from Southwest Colorado to make sure they understand the ramifications of eliminating a reason people give to charity.
These are just a few of the items that make United Way a wise option when considering giving to charity. I hope that United Way is not viewed as just a middle man for donations as we are much more than that. To make your gift, visit www.unitedway-swco.org and click on Give. If you want to learn more about your United Way, call 247-9444.
Tim Walsworth is president and CEO for United Way and a member of the Durango High Noon Rotary Club.