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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. 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 change their lives for the better.

Group portrait of happy kids.

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. With that 8% fee, United Way:

  • Integrates our community’s systems so that non-profits, healthcare and social services can better align to help those in need.
  • Convenes and participates on many community coalitions, initiatives and collaboratives to address challenges facing Greater Rochester and build a stronger community.
  • Collects, processes and transfers donations on behalf of hundreds of health and human services agencies in the region (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, a summer program in Brighton or a domestic violence hotline call in Pittsford, 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: 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 doesn’t provide any volunteer opportunities.
FACT: While United Way doesn’t have volunteer opportunities on-site, 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 to getting camps ready for kids. Visit to learn more. We can also help to connect you with partner programs that have volunteer opportunities.

MYTH: Nobody gives through their workplace anymore. The United Way model doesn’t work.
FACT: In Monroe County, we’re 800 companies and more than 1,000 employee campaign coordinators strong! We are fortunate to have the support of so many companies and employees in the Greater Rochester area and feel honored that they connect with us for their philanthropic giving. From the largest companies in Rochester to the smallest startups – thank you to everyone who has been a part of our story, and our workplace campaign, for the past 100 years!

MYTH: Younger people don’t give and neither do retirees.
FACT: Both groups prove themselves to be powerhouse supporters year after year after year. United Way’s Emerging Leaders Society is a group of more than 600 local people under the age of 40 giving $500 or more each year, and hundreds more donate to United Way and volunteer through our Day of Caring. And our retirees (and others that aren’t connected to a workplace) give nearly $1 million annually. Thank you to the Emerging Leaders and retirees (and everyone in between!) for supporting United Way.

footer image reads GIVING 101: The Univerity of Rochester community is proud to support the United Way of Greater Rochester in its 101st year.