Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question? It matters to us. Check out the questions (and answers) below that we most often get.  

What is United Way?

United Way is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) agency that brings people and communities together to advance the common good. We partner with local nonprofits, businesses, government and social service agencies to address our community's most pressing needs, in an efficient and effective way. We aspire to lead a positive change that improves people's lives in our impact areas.  Our mission is to rally resources, collaboratives and leadership to improve the quality of life in South Mississippi. 

 

What does United Way do?

Our vision is to  improve outcomes in education, health and financial stability for everyone in South Mississippi by giving children and families the tools and support they need to thrive in our community.  Our goal is to create long-lasting changes that prevent problems from happening in the first place.  We advance the common good by investing in our greatest asset - our children and their families - to create a better tomorrow today.

 

Who do you help?

We serve families and residents in Harrison, Hancock, Pearl River and Stone Counties by providing funding to area agencies and community partners in order to create a lasting impact in South Mississippi.

 

Who decides which programs you invest in?

Committees of knowledgeable volunteers and experts from our community carefully screen and select the programs funded by your contribution. Their recommendations are reviewed and approved by our volunteer board of directors. After selection, these programs are rigorously monitored to ensure they produce positive, measurable results. Every three years, all of our programs go through an open and competitive review process to ensure that the most effective programs in our community are receiving support. We publish our progress in our annual Donor Report so our donors know the impact their contributions are making in our community.

 

I don't benefit, so why should I give?

When you support United Way of South Mississippi, you help build a better quality of life for everyone in Harrison, Hancock, Pearl River and Stone Counties. Our research indicates one key fact over and over again: Education, Financial Stability and Health are the key building blocks for a good life. That’s why United Way especially focuses on impacting those three areas! We know that if we as a community work together to improve the many issues that relate to Education, Financial Stability and Health in South Mississippi, we can enhance economic development opportunities and the future for our community’s children.

 

What's the difference between designated and undesignated gifts?

 A designated gift restricts your gift to a specific 501(c)3 organization (Boy Scouts, for example). An undesignated gift takes advantage of United Way’s  research-based program selection, which invests in programs that have proven to impact issues related to Education, Income and Health, in an effort to achieve measurable improvement in the quality of life in South Mississippi. Every donor is given this option.

 

Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes. And even if you don't itemize on your tax return, you can take a deduction.

 

How is my donation used?

We invest donor dollars in programs that are administered by various nonprofit partners, which have proven and measurable outcomes.  Every program's results are reviewed annually by a committee of local experts, who volunteer their time. To see a list of funded programs, check out our Agency Programs.

 

What's the difference between United Way and other nonprofits?

Making a gift to United Way is the most effective way to help our whole community. Our unique ability to work across complex issues with hundreds of community partners is unmatched. We mobilize volunteers and convene partner agencies, corporations, community leaders and policymakers to make broad, systemic changes like no other organization can on its own. Our programs helps to solve problems before they start.

 

Who runs United Way?

Our staff carries out the planning and implementation of United Way functions. A volunteer Board of Directors sets policy and strategic direction. Various volunteer committees oversee financial practices and provide counsel on operational issues. Our volunteer network is a key reason we're able to make the difference that we can. For every $1 that is donated, $4.84 is reinvested back into the community!

 

Are all United Ways related?

There are 1,400 community-based United Ways across the country and each is separately incorporated and independently governed by local volunteers. Many of these organizations are similar in their mission and structure, but some are very different. We pay a voluntary membership contribution for the rights to use the name and logo, and support broader community impact goals through United Way Worldwide, an umbrella organization that attacks the same problems on a national and global level, and provides guidance, training and development services to local United Ways. These dues are less than 1 percent of our annual budget. 99-cents of every donated dollar stays here, in South Mississippi.

 

How old is the United Way of South Mississippi?

UWSM was founded in 1964. Check out our History page for the whole story!