Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is United Way?
A. Trident United Way gives you the power to make real, long-lasting change in the Lowcountry by addressing the issues that matter the most in people's lives -- education, financial stability and health. We mobilize people and their expertise to work together with a common agenda and shared measurement, because that's the only way to solve complex community problems. By measuring our results, we know that our efforts are making a real difference for the entire community.

Q. Who owns United Way?
A. You do! Trident United Way is owned and operated by and for our tri-county community. All of the policy decisions are made by an elected Board of Directors comprising a diverse group of Lowcountry citizens.

Q. How does Trident United Way strengthen our community?
A. By employing research-backed strategies and constantly measuring our results. Trident United Way works through collective impact, in which many partners collaborate in a systematic way to solve complex community problems. Trident United Way often serves as the backbone organization, coordinating activities, ensuring communication and developing measurements of success. By focusing on the critical building blocks of a good life -- education, financial stability and health -- TUW and its partners are working to strengthen our entire community.

Q. How is United Way making a difference in our community?
A. Collective impact is a research-based model of community-wide problem-solving. During its five years of work in the highest-poverty, lowest performing schools, Trident United Way's Links to Success initiative has helped 91% of students improve their grades, 98% reduce suspensions and 91% improve attendance. 

Q. How does Trident United Way decide which programs to invest in?
A. As it works to achieve the bold community goals listed above, Trident United Way invests in programs run by local agencies that measurably improve people's lives and have the greatest impact in our community. United Way can't solve all our community's problems, so we focus on education, financial stability and health -- without which no one can live a productive life. More than 100 volunteers make the difficult decisions about which programs were the most effective and deserved donors' support.

There are many great programs in our community run by many great non-profit organizations.  Trident United Way only invests in those programs that align with its priorities of increasing the high school graduation rate, increasing the number of families that are financially stable, and increasing the number of Tri-County residents living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding preventable diseases.

Q. Why does United Way invest in some programs and not in others?
A. Our volunteers make the difficult decisions about which programs align with Trident United Way's objectives, are the most effective and deserve donors' support.

Q. To whom can I designate?
A. Trident United Way provides an extra service to our customers, allowing them to donate through United Way to any 501(c)(3) charity in America. Trident United Way sends that money directly to that agency above and beyond any investment United Way makes through its annual investment process in programs run by that agency. However, when you direct your gift elsewhere, Trident United Way can't guarantee that your contribution is having a measurable impact in our community or is supporting the effort to achieve those bold community goals listed above.

Q. How much of my designation goes to the agency I choose?
A. On average, Trident United Way distributes 85 cents of every designated dollar it collects. However, TUW never charges more than $75 to raise, collect and distribute a designated gift.

Q. Why does TUW ask for my email address on the pledge card?
A. Part of Trident United Way's promise is to report to you on our progress. Sending information via email is the fastest and most cost-effective way to do that. But don't worry, we don't give your email address to anyone else and we send our newsletter out just once a month.

Q. My employer forces me to give to United Way.
A. Giving to United Way must always be voluntary. The donor is our customer and we want satisfied customers. Trident United Way has a specific policy against coercion. If you feel you've been forced to give, we want to know about it. Call us anonymously at 843-740-7749 or email us at cbyrd@tuw.org.

Q. I heard about some problems at a United Way. Was that Trident United Way?
A. No. Each of the nation's 1,800 United Ways is an independently operated organization, responsible to its own community. Some United Ways have gotten into trouble for violating national guidelines on the reporting and expenditure of donations. Trident United Way adheres to the strictest ethical and financial standards. If you have questions, contact us at 740-9000 or ckerrigan@tuw.org.

Q. How much does United Way spend on fundraising and salaries?
A. Trident United Way keeps its costs lower than virtually any other charity organization. Because it operates according to strict business principles, Trident United Way is able to invest about 85 cents of each dollar we collect in programs and services helping people in need. Comparing that to 75 cents for comparable national organizations and the guideline of at least 60 cents by the National Charities Information Bureau shows how cost-effective Trident United Way is. Charity Navigator, a not for profit watchdog group, has consitently evaluated Trident United Way for Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency using their checklist methodology.

Q. Does United Way invest in programs in Berkeley County and Dorchester County?
A. Absolutely! Trident United Way invests in dozens of programs serving the entire Tri-County area. For a list of investments, download our 2016-2019 Community Investments. In addition, Trident United Way collaborates with Palmetto Goodwill and Origin. to operate Prosperity Centers in Summerville and Moncks Corner.

Q. I know someone who didn't get help from United Way when they needed it. Why not?
A. Trident United Way helps thousands of people every year get the help they need and improve their lives. Most often, United Way's role is to connect people with the appropriate resources -- not actually deliver it ourselves. To give or get help dial 2-1-1 anytime. Trident United Way's 2-1-1 call center is a free, confidential, 24/7 resource to connect people to resources in the community.

Q. How can I find a copy of Trident United Way's IRS 990 form?
A. Click here for our IRS 990 forms and audited financial statements.

Q. Whom do I contact if I have more questions about how Trident United Way operates?
A. We encourage questions about our policies and procedures, because the more people know about us, the more they like us. Email our communications department at marketing@tuw.org or call us at 843-740-9000.