Q. What is Valley of the Sun United Way?
A. Since 1925, Valley of the Sun United Way has unified diverse partners, donors, business supporters, nonprofits, government, and faith-based communities to build a stronger Valley for us all. No other organization unites as many people to fight poverty in as many ways.
We fight poverty by connecting volunteers to their passions, uniting donors who want to create solutions, and working with select communities, empowering them to develop their own action plans. We use every dollar, every volunteer hour and every bit of your support to ensure kids succeed in school, end hunger, end homelessness, and increase financial stability of families.
Q. How are you fighting poverty in our community?
A. We fight to break the cycle of poverty by:
Q. How are you fighting poverty for kids in our community?
A. We fight for kids by:
Q. How are you ending hunger?
A. Valley of the Sun United Way ends hunger by:
Q. How are you ending homelessness?
A. Valley of the Sun United Way ends homelessness by:
Q. How are you increasing financial stability of families?
A. Valley of the Sun United Way increases financial stability by:
Q. What does it mean to advocate?
A. To advocate means to champion a cause. We invite you to become an advocate in our community. We advocate for:
You can speak out to improve our community, share information about social issues with friends or family, or wear our LIVE UNITED or VIVE UNIDO shirt to show your support for United Way. Your voice drives the fight to break the cycle of poverty in Maricopa County. Stay current with the latest issues we care about at vsuw.org/advocate.
Q. Why should I donate to Valley of the Sun United Way?
A. No other organization unites as many people to fight poverty in as many ways. United Way does what no one single organization can do alone – guide local community members to achieve their potential through education and become self-sufficient by earning a stable income. Plus, with the simplicity of payroll deduction, you can help break the cycle of poverty with ease.
When you choose to donate directly to Valley of the Sun United Way you join the fight for local kids, families, and neighborhoods.
Q. Is United Way a national or local organization?
A. Valley of the Sun United Way is a local, autonomous non-profit organization. Like the 1,800 United Ways across the country, we are governed by a local volunteer Board of Directors. Valley of the Sun United Way pays nominal dues to United Way Worldwide in exchange for important cost-saving services such as staff training, community research information, campaign materials, national marketing partnerships and ongoing consultation.
Q. What does Valley of the Sun United Way do in addition to raising money?
A. Since inception, United Way has mobilized the caring power of individuals and organizations to improve lives across the U.S. Valley of the Sun United Way has served the needs of individuals and families in Maricopa County since 1925 and is the largest non-profit investor of health and human service programs in Maricopa County. No other organization unites as many people to fight poverty in as many ways. We bring partners together from every sector – public, private, non-profit – to do what no single organization can do alone: create solutions that transform individual lives and drive systemic change that impacts entire communities.
Q. Why are there two United Ways in Maricopa County?
A. Maricopa County does in fact have two United Ways, each with distinct roles, serving the human care needs of local residents. Mesa United Way raises money and helps provide assistance only within the City of Mesa. Valley of the Sun United Way raises money throughout Maricopa County, except for the City of Mesa, and provides services county-wide. Valley of the Sun United Way offers donors a variety of giving options to accommodate individual giving preferences, and honors designations to Mesa United Way, any other United Way or qualified health and human service non-profit organization.
Q. What is Valley of the Sun United Way’s overhead costs?
A. Valley of the Sun United Way incurs costs for fundraising, marketing and common business operations such as accounting, human resources and overall organizational management. As careful stewards of our donors’ contributions, Valley of the Sun United Way operates with the utmost efficiency and effectiveness. Less than 10 percent is spent on administrative cost and approximately 90 cents of every dollar goes back into the community to improve lives throughout the Valley.
Q. How do I know that my donation will help those who need it most?
A. Local human care programs that receive United Way funding go through rigorous review and evaluation by Valley of the Sun United Way. This is a competitive process, and programs are selected based on their performance against specific measures that demonstrate impact for individuals and families experiencing poverty. Our Community Impact Committee reviews funding across all of United Way’s strategies to ensure funding aligns with our organizational goals. All funding recommendations are presented to, and approved by, our Board of Directors. This extensive process ensures donors’ dollars are invested in human care programs that are proven to obtain results and transform lives.
Q. How is Valley of the Sun United Way held accountable?
A. Valley of the Sun United Way prides itself on being a trustworthy and accountable organization. A volunteer committee of financial experts meets year-round to monitor the organization’s financial position. Collectively, we maintain high standards of operation and are reviewed each year by an independent auditor, who verifies that our financial statements are sound. In addition to posting our Form 990 on our website for public review, we are an active member of the Better Business Bureau and a past recipient of its Ethics Award, which recognizes businesses for maintaining high ethical standards and accountability in their business practices.
Q. Why should I give directly to Valley of the Sun United Way instead of designating my donation to another non-profit organization?
A. To encourage collective impact, Valley of the Sun United Way brings together partners from every sector – public, business, non-profit, and faith-based organizations – to get things done. Together, with your support, we will ensure kids succeed, end hunger, end homelessness, and increase the financial stability of families and individuals, breaking the cycle of poverty in ways no one organization can do alone.
Q. What does partnership with Valley of the Sun United Way mean?
A. For the last several years Valley of the Sun United Way has talked about partnerships differently. We partner with hundreds of businesses, organizations and individuals to break the cycle of poverty. Some partners receive funding, while others do not. These partners bring the expertise, resources and commitment needed to break the cycle for every child, individual and family in our community by ensuring children succeed in school, ending hunger and homelessness, and increasing the financial stability of families and individuals.
As a result of the ongoing evolution of our work, Valley of the Sun United Way is focused on doing much more than funding the efforts of other agencies and organizations. We fight for families, we fight for kids, and we fight for neighborhoods. We do this by continuing to fund partners through an investment process and aligning funding to our goals. Additionally, we will also be working with partners (traditional and new) in different ways - as grant partners, on pilot projects, on collaborative partnerships, etc.
Q. What criteria must nonprofits meet in order to be eligible for donor designated funds?
A. Nonprofits are subject to a certification process and must meet the following minimum standards:
Q. What criteria must agencies meet to be eligible for grant funding?
A. Agencies are responsible for adhering to a number of compliance criteria in order to receive United Way program grant funding, including:
Q. How are Valley of the Sun United Way Partners held accountable?
A. Local human care programs that receive United Way funding go through a rigorous review and evaluation by Valley of the Sun United Way staff. This is a competitive process, and programs are selected based on their performance against specific measures that demonstrate impact for individuals and families experiencing poverty. This helps ensure donors’ dollars are invested in human care programs that are proven to obtain results and improve lives.
Q. How much influence do I have over how my contribution is invested?
A. Donors are given options for investing in our community. These choices include donating directly to Valley of the Sun United Way, the most proactive way to break the cycle of poverty. Donors may also choose to invest in one or more of our focuses to achieve that goal - ensure kids succeed in school, end hunger, end homelessness, or increase the financial stability of families. United Way also honors a donor’s choice to designate to a specific non-profit agency as long as it meets required criteria.
Q. The agency I want to support is not listed. Can I still restrict my contribution to that particular agency?
A. We encourage a contribution to Valley of the Sun United Way because it is the best way to support a diverse range of human care programs to serve our community’s most pressing needs. United Way develops and invests in best practices to maximize every dollar. You may still restrict your contribution to any 501(c)(3) health and human service organization as long as the organization meets set criteria. To verify if an agency meets United Way’s criteria, please call the agency certification line at 602.631.4813. All calls will be returned within 48 hours.
Q. Last year, I contributed directly to the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit Fund and qualified for a tax credit. Is that option still available? What are the benefits of choosing this option?
A. Yes, donations to Valley of the Sun United Way’s Arizona Charitable Tax Credit fund, qualify for the Arizona state tax “Credit for Contributions to Qualifying Charitable Organizations”. Valley of the Sun United Way is an Umbrella organization for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit. Gifts made to the “Arizona Charitable Tax Credit fund” can qualify for the credit, and can be reported using fund code 20726.
Your contribution to the Charitable Tax Credit fund is leveraged to address the multiple causes of poverty in the Valley. By donating a portion of your United Way contribution to the charitable tax credit fund, you help people increase their self-sufficiency and you could receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit this tax year. Donate up to $400* for individuals and up to $800* for those filing jointly. You don’t have to itemize deductions to claim a credit for contributions to a Qualifying Charitable Organization.
* Valley of the Sun United Way is not a tax advisor. As with any financial recommendation, contact a qualified tax professional for advice on your specific tax situation.
Q. What does the Charitable Tax Deduction mean for taxpayers?
A. It means that taxpayers can still make a tax deductible donation for Arizona taxes even if they don't itemize and choose to take the standard deduction. The Charitable Tax Deduction will allow the amount equal to 25% of the total amount of a taxpayer's charitable deductions to be added to the standard deduction beginning for taxable years from and after December 31, 2018.
Q. Does United Way fund animal organizations?
A. One of the fundamental requirements for United Way funding is that the organization provides health and human care services or administers a qualifying health and human care program. As with all donations, United Way honors a donor’s choice to designate to any 501(c)(3) health and human service organization as long as it meets required criteria.
Q. Why do you want to know how long I’ve been giving?
A. Valley of the Sun United Way takes opportunities to recognize loyal donors through our Loyal Contributors Program. This program identifies, thanks, and communicates with long-time donors who have positively impacted the lives of so many people through their support. If you’ve been giving for five years or more, we want to recognize your commitment. Please visit vsuw.org/loyal to receive loyal contributor communications from Valley of the Sun United Way. If you do not wish to be contacted, please let us know and we will remove you from the contact list of loyal donors.
Q. I am already on a tight budget. How can I afford to give?
A. The need is enormous and every contribution helps. Even a modest contribution per pay period or monthly online helps improve the lives of many kids and families throughout the Valley. By investing in our community through payroll deduction or monthly online, you can spread your contribution over the coming year—making it more manageable than a one-time contribution.
You may also choose to get involved by volunteering or advocating with United Way. As a volunteer and advocate you can lend your time, muscle and voice to help champion a cause. You can volunteer for United Way’s School Readiness Kit assembly, Project Connect events, or deliver WeekEnd Hunger Backpacks to local schools. As an advocate you can share important information about key social issues with others. To learn more about volunteering with United Way, please call 602-631-4800 or visit vsuw.org/volunteer.
Q. What is Women United?
A. Women United is made up of more than 800 members that come together to attend leadership sessions, connect with one another socially and professionally, volunteer together, and fight to break the cycle of poverty in our community. Women United hosts the We Are United Luncheon as well as a Community Leadership Breakfast. Women United members make an annual gift of $1,000 to the work of Valley of the Sun United Way to ensure kids succeed in school, end hunger and homelessness, and increase the financial stability of families. There is a three-year Step Up opportunity as well, which brings recognition of membership the moment you sign up.
Q. What is Generation United?
A. Generation United is a community of emerging leaders who look to advance the mission of Valley of the Sun United Way through volunteering, giving, and connecting with one another. Our group is led by a steering committee representing corporate and community partners of Valley of the Sun United Way. We like to have fun while making a measurable impact in our community with educational opportunities, professional development, and networking events.
Q. What is Planned Giving (or Legacy Society)?
A. Planned Giving, also referred to as Legacy Society, allows donors to include Valley of the Sun United Way in their estate plan. It’s a memorable and unique arrangement that allows the donor to create a legacy that will benefit individuals and families. An endowment at United Way assures a long-term vision for Maricopa County.
The Legacy Society furthers United Way’s mission by encouraging estate gifts that provide perpetual support of health and human services. The Legacy Society is for those who have made arrangements for a bequest or planned gift to Valley of the Sun United Way. While the annual United Way campaign significantly impacts immediate needs, estate gifts can provide continuous support and flexibility to meet emerging needs of our community well into the future. For additional details, contact Lisa Groves at 602-631-4806 or via email at email@example.com.
Q. I had a friend, family member or neighbor who reached out to United Way but did not get help.
A. First, on behalf of Valley of the Sun United Way, we apologize for the fact that you did not receive the attention you needed. Since Valley of the Sun United Way does not provide direct services, sometimes we are unable to address their specific situation for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the service they are seeking is not provided in our community, or they don’t meet the eligibility requirements of the agency providing the program, or, they are requesting assistance outside of the scope of services we are connected to.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, you will find the most complete and up-to-date information with 2-1-1 Arizona, a program of the crisis response network that links individuals to vital community services. We encourage you, if you are able, to use their website 211arizona.org to find more about resources that may be available to you. You may also call them by dialing 2-1-1 from a phone number with an Arizona area code, or 1-877-211-8661 from anywhere.