Donor Information and Policies

The Mission of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County is to bring people, organizations, and resources together to create systemic community change.  The annual campaign is United Way's primary vehicle for raising funds and offers the entire community an opportunity to contribute financial resources toward the achievement of United Way's mission.

Below are United Way's donor policies along with other important information.

Table of Contents (click on any heading to move to that section)

Privacy and Confidentiality

Pledging and Payment


Tax Deductibility and Recordkeeping

Donor Designation

Overhead Costs


There are several ways an individual or corporate donor can pay their pledge:

1)  Cash

2)  Check - made payable to United Way of Buffalo & Erie County

3)  Credit Card - If using a paper pledge card, an invoice will be mailed to the donor's mailing address to secure this confidential information.  Credit card payments are accepted online for those companies using our e-Pledge and via for those contributing outside a workplace campaign.

4)  Direct Debit - a direct debit form will be mailed directly to the donor's home or mailing address to secure the donor's checking or savings account number, the donor's bank's routing number, and the account holder's name.  Direct debit payments are debited from the donor's bank account around the 15th of the month, as directed by the donor (monthly, quarterly, annually).

5)  Payroll deduction - Payroll deduction is the easiest and most convenient way of paying a pledge.  This option is available only to donors giving through their workplace campaign.  By signing the United Way pledge form, or submitting a pledge online through the workplace campaign, the donor authorizes his or her employer's payroll department to deduct a certain amount from his or her paycheck on a pre-determined schedule.  The amount deducted is then remitted to the United Way by the donor's employer.

6)  Electronic Fund Transfer - this payment option is reserved for companies and other organizations to remit payment to the United Way for their corporate pledge and/or United Way deductions withheld from their employees' paychecks.

7)  Stocks or Securities - there are two ways to donate securities:

a)  Via broker - the donor's broker should initiate a transfer of the gifted securities to United Way of Buffalo & Erie County's brokerage account as follows:

DTC# 0141
Firm:  First Clearing
Account Title:  United Way of Buffalo and Erie County
Account# 6022-1209

b)  Via stock certificate - issue a stock certificate naming the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County as the owner of a specific number of stocks being donated.  The original stock certificate can be picked up by a United Way representative or mailed directly to the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County's finance office. 

Whichever option donor may choose, the date of the gift is the date the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County becomes the true owner of the donated securities.  For income tax purposes, the deduction value is the mean between the high and low quoted selling prices on the date of the gift.


Within a month of receiving a pledge, regardless of the payment method, United Way sends a thank you letter or card to the address provided by the donor.  This communication also lists any agency or agencies designated by the donor to receive all or part of the donor's contribution.  As noted in the following section, this letter might be needed if the donor itemizes deductions on his or her tax return, and should, therefore, be retained with other important tax documents.

Occasionally, there are reasonable delays in transmitting pledge information from the workplace to the United Way.  In any case, the United Way will send donor the Thank You and acknowledgment letter within a month from the date when United Way receives the pledge from the donor's workplace.


The United Way of Buffalo & Erie County is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and as such contributions to United Way are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
The IRS requires that all individuals who itemize deductions on their federal tax return should have documentation to substantiate all contributions, regardless of amount.  In January-February of each year, the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County sends tax receipts to all donors and companies who made payment of at least $250.00 in the prior calendar year, through any method other than payroll deduction and securities.  Tax receipts for gifts through stocks or securities are mailed to the donor within 30 days from receipt of the gifted securities.  For donors who paid less than $250.00 through any method other than payroll deduction and securities in the prior calendar year, a receipt will be issued upon the request of the donor.
The following are the requirements from the IRS for charitable gift substantiation:
1)  Gifts of cash, check, credit card, or direct debit
a) Bank record (canceled check, bank statement or credit card statement); OR
b) Written acknowledgment from the United Way showing the date of payment and amount of contribution.  (Note:  Donors may use the tax receipt issued by United Way of Buffalo & Erie County in January of each year.) 
2)  Gifts of securities
a) Broker record showing the name of the charity and date of the gift; OR
b) Written acknowledgment from the United Way showing the date and the exact type of contribution, and the mean value of the stock on the date the gift was received.
3)  Gifts paid through payroll deduction
a) Paystub, Form W-2, or other employer-furnished documents that sets forth the amount withheld for payment of your pledge to the United Way, AND
b) A copy of the pledge confirmation, such as a pledge card, or the acknowledgment/thank-you letter from the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County.


​1) Undesignated gifts make the biggest Impact in our local community.  Funds are directed to local programs that address our community's most significant needs in the areas of education, financial stability, and health & wellness.

2) Donors may choose to designate all or a portion of his or her total gift to a Health and Human Service (HHS) organization that is currently eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Health and Human Services improve the health and well-being of all individuals by providing for basic necessities, such as food, water, clothing, shelter, safety, and healthcare; psychological needs; and self-fulfillment, such as education and achieving one's full potential - by developing, promoting, and encouraging complete, continued improvements in the areas under medicine, public health, social services, and other disciplines.
3) If the donor's employer uses e-Pledge (the easiest and most convenient way to make a pledge), the agency names can be found by keywords when the donor completes their pledge online.  For paper pledges, the agency's name, address, and amount can be written on the form.  If there is not enough space to write multiple agency names, the donor should write his or her name, the agencies' names, and designated amounts on the back of the pledge card or a separate sheet.

4)  Some employers may have an arrangement with the United Way where their employees can continue or carry over their previous campaign year's pledge to the most current campaign year, as well as into a new calendar/tax year (if a payroll deduction pledge).  The United Way of Buffalo & Erie County’s annual “campaign year” runs according to our fiscal year, which is April 1 – March 31 (the largest portion of pledges arrive between August and December of each year).  In the past, for employee donations that continued, resumed, or “rolled over” their gift to a new campaign year, the United Way did not presume that a donor had the same designation intentions, therefore left their contribution as undesignated, which is distributed to our locally funded partners.  However, due to the ever-changing times, we are offering this courtesy starting  the 2020 General Campaign for donor workplace campaigns.  In these cases, donors shall also check with their employer to be sure they can carry over their previous campaign year’s agency designation(s), or if they are to complete a new paper pledge form, or submit a new pledge through our online e-Pledge.  Charity designations are also dependent on other factors, such as current agency eligibility.  Still, the best way to ensure contact, pledge, and designation information are all entered correctly, is for donors to complete a new pledge annually, whether online or via a paper pledge form.  It ensures we are getting the information directly from the donor each year.


5) To confirm that the United Way has recorded the donor's selected agency or agencies, the donor will receive an acknowledgment from the United Way indicating the agency or agencies' name and the amount designated.
6)  Donor-designated dollars and United Way Program Partner allocations that are directed to the same agency are managed independently.  The agency will receive two separate payments from these two separate and distinct funding sources.
7) It is preferred that all agency designations be communicated to the United Way on or before March 31st, the end of the United Way's fiscal year, to determine the amount of undesignated funds available for allocations.  However, if a donor forgets to designate his or her gift, he or she may still do so in writing, anytime during the year up to six months after the completion of the campaign.
8) For our General Campaign, eligible designated agencies will be paid by the United Way on a periodic basis following collection, in accordance with established policies and procedures (total pledge amount, minimum check amount, etc.).  The amount remitted to the agencies will also be determined by how the pledge was paid:
a) Pledges paid through cash, checks, credit cards, direct debit:  These types of payments are ultimately recorded on the donor's account.  Since the payment came directly from the donor, we can readily record the payment detail on a per donor basis.  Once payment is received and posted on the individual donor's record, the designated agency is paid according to our payout procedures (schedule, minimum distribution amount, etc.).  The agency will receive 93% of dollars designated to it, which includes our minimal cost-recovery charge cited under Overhead Costs.
b) Pledges paid through stocks:  The amount to be paid to the agency will be the actual value of the stock at the time it was sold.  For example, a donor may give $1,000 worth of stocks (value at gift date) and designate the full amount to an agency.  However, due to fluctuations in stock prices and potential sales fees, the agency may or may not receive the actual amount of the donor's gift.
c) Pledges paid through payroll deduction:  Upon signing a United Way pledge form, the donor authorizes the company's payroll to withhold a certain amount from his or her paycheck as payment of their pledge.  The total amount withheld is then remitted by the company to the United Way, in one lump sum amount, generally monthly or quarterly.  Since most companies do not provide donors' payment detail, the United Way posts the payment on the Organization's (workplace) account where the employee-donor is connected.  During the collection period, there may be employees who leave the company and therefore were not able to fully pay their pledge.  The United Way writes off any unpaid portion of the total employees' payroll pledges at the Organization level, not at the individual donor account level, unless specific information was provided to the United Way about a particular donor.

i.)  It is not feasible to maintain donor level payment information on company payroll accounts.  To serve our donors and agencies in the most efficient, systematic, and cost-effective way, our system is designed to calculate the amount to be paid to agencies based on the overall collection experience at the company level.  As an example:  ABC Company remitted 94% payment of the total payroll pledges.  The balance of 6% is due to employee turnover.  United Way will then pay all agencies designated by ABC employees 94% of the total dollars designated to them, minus our cost-recovery charge cited below, based on our payout policies and procedures.


The United Way, like every other not-for-profit and for-profit organization, has functional expenses associated with its operations.  For us, these could include program service expenses for grants to funded member agencies, utilities, insurance, employee salaries and wages, benefits and contributions, payroll taxes, equipment rental/maintenance, office expenses, bank/credit card and third-party processing fees, independent contractor charges, affiliated organization dues and subscriptions, meetings and conferences, education, etc.  For our fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, these expenses amounted to 15.66% of our revenues, which include pledges to the annual campaign.  Starting our 2024 General Campaign, we have an administrative and fundraising cost-recovery charge of nine percent (9%) on donor-designated contributions to offset the amount of processing donations to other agencies.


Thank you for entrusting the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County with your charitable dollars.  We are grateful for your generosity and will continue to uphold the highest standards of stewardship as we work to improve the quality of life in Erie County.


Revised 6.2024