There are several different kinds of United Way (UW) campaigns and donations, and
it is helpful to become familiar with them to understand the donor lists you receive. The first type of campaign is the United Way-administered Combined Campaign, usually beginning in September each year, in which donors have the option to specify which agency they would like to have their donation given to through a program called 'Donor Choice' or 'Designated Giving.' The agencies donors can specify to receive their donation can be either member or non-member organizations of the United Way. Donors who do specify a particular nonprofit can give permission to the United Way to release their names to the recipient agency. For those who do not give this privilege, the United Way is legally bound to withhold that information, which explains why some, but not all, of the lists you receive include names and amounts for some donors. This legality may also contribute to the common frustration that United Way donor lists and amounts do not always match the total amount on the United Way check. Other reasons for inconsistencies between donor list totals and the total amount of the United Way check are referenced later in this document.
The second type of United Way gift comes from payroll deductions, which are solicited by the United Way during the Combined Campaign mentioned above. The United Way organization sends pledge forms to corporations asking for extra information about the employees who are participating. This information, usually consisting of employee name, donation amount, and a few other identification questions, is ultimately used to send acknowledgment letters to the individual donors; however, sometimes the donors prefer to be anonymous and other times the corporations do not return these pledge form. In these situations, the United Way cannot pass information to you about the individual donors that it does not have. The United Way receives one check from the company representing the entire amount of deductions from its employees. Some companies submit checks to the United Way weekly, some monthly, and others quarterly. For this type of donation, you may receive a list of donor names, but most likely you will not receive any donor names or amounts from a payroll deduction type donation. In addition, the individual donor pledges specified to the UW at the start of a fiscal year may not end up as actual figures, as some employees may leave the company before fulfilling their pledge.
The third campaign the United Way usually administers is the Combined Federal Campaign, or CFC. This is NOT a United Way campaign, but an annual solicitation of all federal government employees usually beginning the first of September. Any organization qualifying by federal government standards may administer this campaign, but most often the United Way is the administrator because they have such a good rapport and a recognizable name to people in the United States. In this campaign, donors again can release their personal information to the recipient agencies specified on their donation form. Only with the donors' consent can the United Way release these names and amounts to you. Also, some states have a state employee campaign similar to the CFC. Again, the United Way usually administers this campaign, and it too begins in early fall. In California, for example, this campaign is called United California State Employee's Campaign.
The discrepancies listed above between the amount of the United Way check and
the list of donor amounts and totals usually do not match. One reason for this
discrepancy is that donor names and amounts are ONLY listed if they have given the United Way permission to do so. Otherwise, the names and amounts will not be included in your report. This inconsistency is mostly due to the 8-13% all United Way organizations deduct from contributions to subsidize administration costs BEFORE it reaches your organization. What does that mean to you? That means a gift of $250 given to the United Way and specified to be given to your organization will actually only be $215-$230 when it reaches you. The percentage deducted will not be the same at all United Way offices since United Way organizations are not identical, but individual member organizations.
Note: The options printed in this document are guidelines to assist you in tracking United Way gifts. Not all of these options will be applicable for
every one of our clients.
Questions and Suggested Resolutions
On whose record do I enter the check from the United Way?
We recommend adding the gift (hard credit) on the United Way record because United Way is your actual donor.
Should I soft credit the donor when I get the list of names from the United Way?
Yes, it is possible to add a partial soft credit. As such, when you add the gift on the United Way's constituent record, add a partial soft credit for each individual for which a constituent record already exists in the database. The purpose of tracking a donor's contributions to the United Way is for inclusion in Giving Clubs, or Donor Categories, and for a giving history. To learn more about how to include soft credit gifts in reports, refer to How to include soft credit gifts (BB25045).
Also, consider coding United Way gifts with a specific gift code, appeal, etc., so that you can easily isolate the gifts for reporting purposes.
What if donors want to pay off one of their pledges with a gift from the United Way?
This is a growing concern today, as more and more donors attempt to pay off
their pledges via a Donor Choice United Way contribution or Donor Advised Fund. For this issue, refer to the answer of the first question: every gift MUST be entered on the record of the person submitting the gift, which in this case would be the United Way. Second, it is in violation of the United Way's status as a charitable organization for a donation from them to benefit a particular individual.
You may often see the following situation:
You send out an appeal for your Annual Fund. A donor returns a pledge card
indicating that he pledges $500. Later, when you send pledge reminders, that
donor informs you that he donated $500 to the United Way, and he wants the
United Way to pay off his pledge.
As logical as this scenario sounds, it is not legal for a gift from a 501©(3) organization to benefit any individual. You will notice also that you cannot pay off a pledge with a soft credit in The Raiser's Edge. It does not allow you to hard credit a gift to two separate records. To make a pledge payment,
an actual hard credit gift is necessary.
In this situation, you already have a pledge entered on a constituent's
record. You need to identify those constituents who have a pledge balance on their records and may have intended to have their United Way gift pay off their pledge. There are a few ways to handle this situation.
- In Configuration, Business Rules, highlight Batch options. Under "When adding a gift to a batch, warn if a constituent has", mark the Outstanding pledge balances checkbox. When you receive a list of donors from the United Way with amounts, open Batch and create a new batch. Enter the name of each donor on the United Way list on each line, pressing Tab after each name to move your cursor to the next field. If the constituent has an outstanding pledge, a notification screen appears. Click Yes to apply the gift to a pledge. A screen showing all outstanding pledges appears. You can view the date, amount, and fund to which the pledge was given. From this point, discuss with others in your office about how to determine which pledges were intended to be paid, if any. One option is to add an Other gift to their records and create an output query from the batch. From that output query, you can send a letter to those donors acknowledging that you did notice an outstanding balance on their records, and informing them that this United Way donation cannot legally pay off their pledge. You may give them the decision to write-off the pledge, or to pay in some other manner. It is extremely important to remember to inquire about these constituents' pledges. If these donors were intending for their pledges to be paid by United Way donations, their gifts are on their records twice once you enter the Other gifts: once as a Pledge and once as an Other gift. Remember to write off pledges, if necessary.
- A second method is to run a pledge report and create an output query from it. You can compare the list of donors in the United Way report with those in your pledge report or the report output query. Then, follow the steps listed above to inform your donors of the status of their constituent records and the possibilities for the payment of their pledges.
Note: Regardless of the method you choose, educating your donors is the best way to avoid the above situations. There will always be donors who misunderstand the regulations concerning gifts from tax-exempt organizations and how those regulations affect their own giving histories, but with the trend toward increased United Way and DAF giving, educating donors now will save time and effort and ensure satisfied donors in the future.
The total amount of the United Way check never matches the list of donor names and amounts I receive. How can I reconcile them?
Call the particular United Way and ask them what their office's administrative
fee is. Most United Ways will gladly relay this helpful information. Some United Way organizations will even print the percentage directly on the donor list they send to you.