Valley of the Sun United Way | Frequently Asked Questions
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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.
A. We fight to break the cycle of poverty by:
- Preparing kids for success in the kindergarten
- Preparing kids to read at grade level by 4th grade
- Providing quality programs after-school and in the summer
- Preparing kids for college and career
- Fighting to end hunger in the classroom and at home for families
- Fighting to end homelessness
- Fighting to increase the financial stability for families
A. We fight for kids by:
- Improving access to quality early child care, fostering childcare center quality improvement, improving caregiver training, access to child care scholarships and School Readiness Kits in select communities
- Helping kids read at grade level by 4th grade with Vello, an online 1:1 reading tutoring program and Read On initiatives in select communities
- Improving quality after-school and summer programs focused on mentoring, resiliency skills, education supports for students
- Partnering with Thriving Together schools to ensure students are prepared for college and career
A. Valley of the Sun United Way ends hunger by:
- Supporting the emergency food network to obtain and distribute food to help meet the community’s need, including emergency meals
- Ensuring children have nutritious breakfast through Breakfast in the Classroom, lunch and evening meals available year-round and WeekEnd Hunger Backpacks during the school year
- Partnering with select neighborhoods to develop and implement long-term, community-driven solutions that end hunger
A. Valley of the Sun United Way ends homelessness by:
- Providing permanent supportive housing solutions for chronically homeless individuals
- Providing emergency shelter and basic needs services for individuals experiencing homelessness
- Increasing access to shelter, housing and services for individuals at risk of homelessness
A. Valley of the Sun United Way increases financial stability by:
- Training financial coaches on building savings, budgeting and financial education to work one-on-one with community members
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:
- Policies that support quality early learning opportunities, provide access to quality child care, and increase parent involvement opportunities to ensure school readiness for young children
- Best practice and research-based policies focused on improving high school graduation rates and college readiness
- Policies that help families achieve financial security through financial education and asset-building opportunities
- Policies allowing families to easily navigate assistance programs, eliminating barriers and unnecessary bureaucracy
- Policies that protect and strengthen the human service safety net for the growing number of families in need of assistance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A. Nonprofits are subject to a certification process and must meet the following minimum standards:
- Be classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, and be in compliance with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations, including the maintenance of corporate status as designated by the state of incorporation’s regulatory agency
- Have a mission to provide health and human service programs, or deliver a health and human service program
- Be governed by a board of community volunteers
- Not knowingly employ individuals or contribute funds to organizations found on the US Government, United Nations, or European Union terrorist related list
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:
- Be classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, and be in compliance with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations, including the maintenance of corporate status as designated by Arizona’s Corporation Commission
- Provide health and human service programs
- Be governed by an active, rotating volunteer board that represents diverse elements of the community
- Demonstrate sound financial and program management in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and be willing to make full disclosure
- Adhere to all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations regarding equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination
- Comply with all federal immigration laws and regulations that relate to its employees and compliance with the E-verify requirements under A.R.S. § 23-214(A)
- Comply with any and all applicable fingerprinting and background check requirements, as necessary, for staff and/or volunteers under the Arizona Revised Statutes
- Not knowingly employ individuals or contribute funds to organizations found on the US Government, United Nations, or European Union terrorist related list
- Provide annual compliance documentation, including but not limited to vendor information, ACH deposit information, and a completed W9
Provide projected and actual financial information, client beneficiary data, and service statistics including specified periodic outcome measurement data in VSUW’s required format for all VSUW-funded programs upon request.
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.
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.
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.
A. Yes, donations to Valley of the Sun United Way’s Helping the Working Poor 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 “Helping the Working Poor fund” can qualify for the credit, and can be reported using fund code 20726.
Your contribution to the Helping the Working Poor fund is leveraged to address the multiple causes of poverty in the Valley. By donating a portion of your United Way contribution to helping the working poor, 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.
- Provide your name, home address and phone number on your pledge card or online at vsuw.org/hwp in order to receive an acknowledgement for your tax records
- For more information about United Way’s Helping the Working Poor fund and the Arizona state tax “Credit for Contributions to Qualifying Charitable Organizations”, call 602.631.4800.
* 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.
A. Through 2014, the Department published a list of umbrella organizations, which included Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW). As noted on azdor.gov, as of 2015, the Department no longer publishes a list of umbrella organizations, however, taxpayers’ contributions to an umbrella organization still may qualify for the “Credit for contributions to qualifying charitable organizations”, provided that 100% of the donations still are directed to Qualifying Charitable Organizations (QCOs) that are certified by the Department.
One of the options that VSUW provides for its donors is an option to designate a contribution to VSUW’s Helping the Working Poor (HWP) Fund. VSUW then directs 100% of the contributions to the HWP Fund to QCOs that are certified by the Department. Accordingly, donations to VSUW’s HWP fund qualify for the “Credit for contributions to qualifying charitable 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.
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.
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.
A. Generation United is a Valley of the Sun United Way affinity group for young professionals, who want to get more involved in the community through volunteerism, advocacy and networking opportunities. Generation United provides unique access to the top non-profit, business and government leaders in the Greater Phoenix area. You can sign-up online at genunited.org.
A. Women United is a network of women who support United Way by giving, advocating, volunteering and inspiring others to create lasting change in our community. Members are able to connect with like-minded women, network and expand personal and professional opportunities; engage in volunteer events geared toward United Way’s work in breaking the cycle of poverty; serve as ambassadors for United Way and give $1,000 annually toward breaking the cycle of poverty for kids, their families and the neighborhoods where they live. Contact us at email@example.com to learn more, or visit vsuw.org/womenunited.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. We would like the opportunity to speak with your friend, family member neighbor, etc. and find out why he/she was not assisted. Although we attempt to help everyone who requests assistance, 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 provided. You can contact us at email@example.com.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, call 2-1-1 Arizona at 2-1-1 from an Arizona area code or 1-877-211-8661, or visit http://www.211arizona.org/ for community information and referral services.