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United Way

Top 10 Myths about United Way

MYTH: My donation doesn’t stay here in my community.
FACT: Every dollar invested in United Way stays here in the Greater Rochester community. We believe in taking care of our own and we want to build a thriving community where we all live, work and raise our families.

MYTH: I don’t have a lot to give so I can’t make much impact.
FACT: Your investment in United Way makes a huge difference for our community. There are so many things in this world that are out of our control, but today in Rochester there are 100,000 people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

smartphone showing photo fo two small girls, held over larger photo of children seated by a house decades ago

Right here in Rochester there are 1,900 child protective cases each year. These are things we can address together, right now, with United Way. From $1 to $1 million, investments in United Way’s Community Fund fuel the support for thousands of people in need to help chance their lives for the better.

MYTH: Most of my donation is going to overhead and operating expenses so I should just give to agencies directly.
FACT: 92 cents of every donated dollar goes back into the community to support critical programs and services. Charity Navigator awards the highest score for fundraising costs if they are 10% or less and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance indicates that a charity should spend no more than 35% of related contributions on fundraising. United Way of Greater Rochester is below both of these guidelines. United Way collects, processes and transfers donations on behalf of hundreds of health and human services agencies in the region, and many indicate that participating in the United Way campaign is an effective, efficient way for them to fundraise.

MYTH: United Way programs just provide handouts and are a band-aid solution to our community’s problems.
FACT: The only band-aids we hand out are to kids getting in their health and fitness requirements in our after-school and summer learning programs. United Way is dedicated to identifying the greatest needs in the community and investing Community Fund dollars in evidence-based and preventative programs. All United Way partner programs and initiatives are monitored, measured and evaluated regularly to confirm they’re achieving positive results for our community and local people in need.

MYTH: United Way only helps people in the city of Rochester.
FACT: We invest in a network of partner programs that help people all across Monroe County. Whether it’s a multipurpose aging resource center in Gates or a food pantry in Brighton, our programs are connecting resources all across the county to help people in need.

MYTH: I’m never going to need these services so I have no reason to donate.
FACT: When our community thrives, we all thrive.

  • One more local kid in after-school means one more high school graduate ready to take on the world.
  • One more local family with stable housing means one less zombie house causing property values to decline.
  • One more local elder with safe transportation means one less emergency hospital visit driving up healthcare costs.

MYTH: I saw on Facebook that United Way’s CEO has a very large salary and that only a small amount of my donation would go to someone in need.
FACT: Don’t believe everything Aunt Harriet shares on Facebook. United Way of Greater Rochester and our operating budget are separate from United Way Worldwide, which is referenced in the image shared on Facebook. Our CEO’s salary, operating costs and fundraising costs are kept low so that 92 cents of every donated dollar goes back into the community to support critical programs and services. And we’re a four-star charity on Charity Navigator, so we’ve got that going for us!

MYTH: At XYZ company we’re forced to give to United Way.
FACT: For starters, we’re sorry you feel that way. We would never want anyone to feel forced to give to something they don’t believe in. United Way does not encourage companies to coerce employees to give. We work with companies to help them offer United Way as a simple, convenient way for their employees to invest in our community.

MYTH: United Way supports Planned Parenthood and I don’t agree with that.
FACT: Planned Parenthood receives funding through United Way’s Donor Choice program. Individual donors designate to Planned Parenthood; that’s the only means by which the organization receives money through United Way.

MYTH: United Way doesn’t provide any volunteer opportunities
FACT: While there are no direct volunteer opportunities with United Way, we do plan the biggest volunteer party in Rochester every year. Every May, we get 6,500 of our closest friends together to participate in Day of Caring. They help 200 not-for-profits with everything from painting, planting and mulching and getting camps ready for kids. Visit to learn more. We can also help to connect you with partner programs that have volunteer opportunities.