What does United Way do?

United Way is a leader in the social service sector with its dual role as a fundraiser and community funder. We aim to address the immediate needs of the community on an annual basis, while creating long-term strategies to target the root causes of social issues. Since it takes everyone working together to change social conditions. We unite community partners, volunteers, donors, business, labour and government in a common cause of caring as we believe together we can accomplish more than we ever could on our own. We are the largest non-government funder in Greater Victoria and we have invested over $144 million to build a strong and caring community since 1937.

What programs and services does United Way support?

We fund programs and services that align with the three priority areas that the community told us were important:

ALL THAT KIDS CAN BE: Children and youth programs related to school readiness, school achievement and a successful transition to adulthood and the workforce. United Way supports mentorship, counselling, and out of school programs that nurture self-esteem, confidence, positive behaviour and a sense of belonging so kids can grow into engaged and productive adults.

FROM POVERTY TO POSSIBLITY: To be financially stable and self-sufficient, families first need the knowledge and tools to maximize their income and savings. United Way supports money management programs, financial counselling, social enterprise and employment training programs that help individuals and families build their assets for long-term stability.

STRONG COMMUNITIES: The health of our community and the well-being of individuals have a profound impact on the quality of life in Greater Victoria. United Way supports recreation, wellness, mental health and social programs that give people the tools, confidence and support to take better care of themselves and their families.

How are investment decisions made?

Experienced staff and subject matter volunteers related to our three priority areas make investment decisions based on community needs, research and funding criteria. We invest to minimize duplication among programs and we look for measurable results, quality performance and innovative approaches.

Why should I give to United Way when I can give directly to one of your agencies?

United Way is an expert in knowing where the needs are most immediate for vulnerable people in our community. We keep a pulse on the trends and research affecting the areas of kids, poverty and strong communities. We invest in local solutions and can demonstrate the impact donor dollars are making in Greater Victoria.

In order to keep a vital network of social services strong, United Way must support a number of agencies all working together. For us to direct to one agency without understanding all the players would mean that some agencies don’t get funded.

People in crisis often require more than one service, they require a number of programs and services to support them, and therefore, we need to ensure they are all adequately funded.

Small organizations with limited staff and profile, but are doing very important work would not get funded because people don’t know about them – again putting a coordinated network of services at risk. Organizations with higher profile and staff (ones that have communication and fundraising staff in particular) would get a large percentage of community donations, again putting a network of care out of balance.

What is United Way Greater Victoria’s geographic scope?

We serve all the Capital Regional District and Southern Vancouver Island – our region is a compilation of 13 municipalities (Central Saanich, Colwood, Esquimalt, Highlands, Langford, Metchosin, North Saanich, Oak Bay, Saanich, Sidney, Sooke Victoria, View Royal), the Juan de Fuca electoral area and the Southern Gulf Islands (Salt Spring Island, Galiano Island, Mayne Island, Saturna Island and North and South Pender Islands) and over 369,000 residents.

How much of my donation is used for fundraising costs?

According to our 2013 audited financial statements, our fundraising and administration cost is 15% on total revenues. We keep our costs low as we operate through a small team of staff fundraisers who are supplemented and supported through volunteers including: Loaned Representatives from workplace partners, members of our Campaign Cabinet, Leaders Committee and Major Gifts Cabinet as well as thousands of individuals on the front line in their workplaces running United Way campaigns. We also work with many generous community organizations who supply products and services to us pro-bono or through in-kind donations.

In addition to our role as year round fundraiser, United Way is a community funder. This arm of our organization allocates our donor dollars as investments into our community to a network of programs and services which requires several areas of work that assists in successful program delivery including:

  • Developing the internal capacity of our community partners to track outcomes, providing coaching and mentoring, facilitating and participating in research to improve sector practices and address root causes of social issues.

These components of community investment are vital when it comes to ensuring we are changing lives and building community. In 2013 our costs associated with network program support was 10%.

The CRA considers 35% to be an acceptable standard for the cost of fundraising and administration. For those who want further details, all of our financials, along with our Annual Report, is available on our website uwgv.ca.

I have heard of CEOs in charitable organizations being highly paid and receiving many extra benefits.

From time to time information is circulated about the salaries of CEOs at various charities. These are usually either international or American organizations which bear no relationship to United Way Greater Victoria. Full details of our finances, including executive salaries, can be found on the CRA website. Our CEO is compensated at a level that is in line with other organizations in the sector and has no additional benefits or perks beyond standard health care and vacation. All of our salaries are established within the context of the local non-profit environment and similar sized United Ways across the country. Our United Way is a fiscally prudent organization whose goal is to maximize investment in our community.

Does United Way fund religious or political projects?

No. We do support some agencies with religious roots, but only those with programs that are open to all community members and do not promote religion to participants. We are a non-partisan organization, and we do not fund political parties or projects.

Why does United Way charge $12 for processing each donor choice designated gift?

Donor Directed Giving is a service provided as a convenience to donors who want to consolidate their charitable giving to United Way and other charities. To offset administration costs, United Way charges a very small $12 cost recovery fee per designation to another charity.

Is personal information from donors protected?

Absolutely. We do not share donor information outside the organization.

What is a Loaned Representative? What does that person do?

A loaned representative (LR) is a person who works for a local company and is loaned to United Way for a 16-week period to help with our campaign. Their employer continues to pay their salary and benefits as they bring their skills to United Way to help us raise money for the community. Not having to pay for extra campaign staff is one way we keep our overhead low.

Does organized Labour support United Way?

Yes. Provincial and federal employees, trade union and health care workers all contribute generously by designating a portion of their pay cheque to United Way. Labour members also participate as volunteers on our Board, Community Cabinet and within workplaces throughout the community. United Way has a strong, positive relationship with labour.

Can people phone United Way to get help?

United Way is not a service delivery organization. We help manage, advise, and invest in the “front line” agencies who deliver programs to those in need.


Receipts are issued automatically in real time by CanadaHelps if you donate through our website. Receipts are issued automatically by our office for any donations $25 or over on a regular and timely basis. We are pleased to issue receipts for lesser amounts on request, please call Ann Smith 250-385-6708.