Unrestricted (Undesignated) vs Restricted (Designated) Contributions - United Way General Campaign

GIVE WHERE YOU LIVE.  The most effective way to benefit our local community is to give "unrestricted" to United Way.  Our Impact


United Way understands it is important to choose the right organization to donate your hard-earned money.  You want to know that your contribution is truly helping those who need it most, and will make a major impact on its beneficiaries, while also giving you the personal satisfaction that you made a difference.  One of the ways United Way does this is by publishing Community Report Cards to increase public awareness on community concerns in Erie County, promote discussions about potential solutions through unrestricted United Way donations, and encourage shared participation leading to beneficial change.  As an optional, elective service and collaboration among nonprofit agencies, we also offer gift restriction to other Health or Human Service ** charities.  To help minimize cost efforts in processing donor-designated gifts, please see important information below.

** What are Health and Human Services (HHS), you ask?  These are agencies that work to improve and maintain the health and well-being of individuals by providing for necessities such as food, water, clothing, shelter, safety, and healthcare, psychological/social interpersonal needs [acceptance and dignity], and self-actualization/self-fulfillment [achieving one's full potential and prosperity] -- all by developing, promoting, encouraging, and adopting continued improvements in the areas of medicine, public health, social support services, and other disciplines.

  • For General Campaign designations, organizations must provide a direct public Health or Human Service** (see above), and be currently eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions [not-for-profit] under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and located in the United States.  If a for-profit business is chosen, the designation will be changed to an undesignated contribution and used to fund local partner agencies that have programs in the areas of child education, income/finance, and health/wellness.  For questions about agency designations and eligibility, please contact us directly.
  • For our General Campaign, starting for our 2024 General Campaign, our administrative and fundraising cost-recovery charge is nine percent (9%) on donor-designated contributions to help offset the amount of processing donations to other agencies.
  • Please provide the full name and locality of a chosen charity (book/code # is optional and specific to United Way of Buffalo & Erie County).  Many large national and international charities have a main "Headquarters" (HQ) address shown on their website; therefore, be sure to select the correct and active affiliate, branch, or chapter.
  • Charities will be required to certify/recertify online annually, to potentially maintain eligibility for receiving donor-designated contributions.  If a charity is not already registered and approved to receive contributions with our United Way, additional processing time will be required, and the agency is subject to eligibility and individual response.
  • Charities with total designations of less than $200.00 will have a prolonged payment delay, based on pledge type (fully paid, payroll, etc.), actual collection experience, and minimum distribution amount.
  • Some employers may have a prearrangement with the United Way where their employees can continue or carry over their previous year's contribution to the most current campaign year.  Donors may need to check to see if they are able to resume their gift designation to a previously chosen agency, as United Way will not be assumed a donor's intentions.  A donor may want to complete a new pledge, whether online or via paper form, where one can provide updated pledge and/or designation information.  Designation options are also dependent on other factors, such as current agency eligibility status, etc.
  • Agency eligibility is subject to change, is discretionary, and is dependent on other factors, such as overall collaboration efforts, IRS eligibility, etc.  The United Way does not have an affiliation with, or endorse designations to other nonprofits, except for specific agreements, and any promotion is solely on the agency.  United Way logos are registered trademark symbols and shall not be used by others unless granted sole permission.
  • Charities that receive payment from the United Way for donor-designated contributions shall not issue tax receipts to the contributor.  Donors are asked to retain a copy of their United Way pledge form, or email confirmation for online contributions, and the acknowledgment or thank you, and/or tax receipt that our United Way may send (if an address is provided).  For information regarding tax deductions and contributions, please contact your tax preparer.  Helpful IRS information may be found in IRS Publication 526 or IRS Publication 1771.
  • Important message for campaigns for employees paid by NYS (SEFA - State Employees Federated Appeal) or the Federal Government (CFC - Combined Federal Campaign):  Agency name, code number, and annual eligibility are NOT interrelated or interchangeable to content on this page or agency listings.  Application requirements, acceptance, and policies are separate from the United Way General Campaign.  Please see current information from SEFA and CFC for agency eligibility, number selection, etc.

A helpful tool to see if an organization is tax-exempt can be found on the IRS website:  https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/