Frequently Asked Questions


What is the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore?
United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore is a local, independent, non-profit organization established in over 70 years old. The local United Way connects local resources with local needs to meet critical health and human community needs. United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore serves Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset and Dorchester Counties in Maryland.
Who runs the United Way?
The United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore is a local independent organization governed by a local volunteer Board of Directors. All policies, activities, and procedures are determined right here at home. The community volunteers who work on the Board of Directors and the various committees come from all walks of life and reflect the diversity of the Eastern Shore. A small professional staff of 10 works to support volunteer activities, produce the information and materials, process campaign pledges, recruit and train volunteers, and plan the special events for the four counties served.
How much is spent on campaign cost and overhead?
Due to the large number of volunteers and in-kind donations, United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore’s overhead costs for last fiscal year was a low 19.6 percent. As a point of reference, the National Charities Bureau suggests a 25 percent administrative cost as a baseline for non-profit organizations and the national average for all charities is 34 percent.
How does the United Way decide how much to distribute to each agency?
The United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore has a Community Impact Committee comprised of local volunteers who annually analyze each agency’s funding requests, annual budgets, programs, and efficiency in meeting local needs. Upon reviewing the agencies’ written requests for funding, they actually go to each agency for a site visit. Based on the campaign dollars raised, they distribute the funds by reviewing the need of the agency, the need for the programs provided in the community, the impact on those served, and the efficiency of the agency in providing the programs. Approximately 800 hours per year are spent by volunteer experts who serve as stewards to ensure every donor's dollars are directed where they will have the most impact and make a difference.
Do donors have an option to designate their contribution to a specific agency?
Yes, if the donor wants to designate their entire or even a portion of their gift to one agency, they can do so as long as it is at least $100 and a United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore member agency. Additionally, donors have the option of directing their gift to a specific impact area such as “Services for Aging & Vulnerable Populations - Health”, “Programs to Help Children Succeed - Education” or “Emergency & Crisis Assistance - Financial Stability”.
What if a donor wants to contribute, yet doesn’t feel strongly about designating to a specific agency?
Designations are optional. If no designation is checked, the contribution will go where the needs are the most critical. The United Way Community Impact Committee will direct these contributions to agencies that have demonstrated the most needed and efficient programs this year. This is the most common manner of giving.
Why shouldn’t someone just give their contribution directly to an agency?
The United Way is a single community-wide campaign which saves all the agencies money, time, and effort and exactly why the United Way was originally created. Member agencies rely on United Way as a consistent source of funds, which saves them money in processing, tracking, and billing for donations. The more United Way is able to fund the programs means the less agencies will have to spend on staff, time, and resources to conduct their own fundraisers. The critical advantage of United Way is that it can raise money for the organization it funds far less expensively than they can ever hope to do themselves. Additionally important is the donor’s gift is joined with other gifts to multiply the impact further than any one gift alone!
Who pays for United Way advertising, campaign lunches, and annual meetings?
United Way does not use contributed money to pay for these expenses. Advertising in local newspapers, radio, and television is free to the United Way. The campaign lunches and annual meeting costs are covered by individuals attending these functions or sponsored by local companies.
What is United Way Worldwide?
United Way Worldwide is not corporate headquarters for United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore. It is a national support organization designed to assist the 1,800 independent local United Ways across the world. It does not regulate local United Ways, yet does have standards all United Ways must adhere to in order to use the United Way name and provides cost-saving services to local United Ways. In fact, the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore actually could not purchase many of the United Way products for a lower rate locally.
Why doesn’t United Way include all nonprofit organizations?
United Way standards of financial accountability and program services are high. Some agencies would like to have the United Way seal of approval and annual review, but don’t quite measure up to the stringent requirements or want a review process.