conversation guide & faq - Heart of West Michigan United Way

Responding to concerns during workplace campaigns
This guide is designed to help you answer frequently asked questions about giving to United
Way and to respond to objections or concerns about giving. Questions and concerns are a
natural part of the process of asking people to give, so they should be regarded as signals that
you are doing your job.
To respond well when concerns are raised, you need to first really understand what prompts the
Keep the following points in mind:
1. It’s not personal. An objection is directed at the idea you are presenting. It is not aimed at
2. Be sympathetic. Listen carefully to what the person says. You can sympathize even if you
don’t agree.
3. Don’t argue. Argument will force the person into defending the objection and cause
resentment. Remember the old adage about winning the battle but losing the war? As a
workplace campaign coordinator, you may win an argument but lose your contributor.
4. Encourage employees to talk. Ask questions, and invite people to voice their concerns or
raise objections. The more you understand about their perspective, the better you can address
the issue.
5. Above all, be yourself. Relax. You shouldn’t feel that your job is to engage in a battle. Neither
is it necessary to overwhelm a person with rhetoric. You have an important idea to present, and
you should be absolutely straightforward in doing so.
Every concern should first be acknowledged. After the objection has been raised, you can
oftentimes neutralize the concern by restating it and providing information in the FAQ below to
address the concern. Best of all, this method makes it completely unnecessary for you to argue
with your prospect or “counter” all objections. Instead, you show that you are in your prospect’s
corner. That means there is never a need to choose sides.
Responding to concerns during workplace campaigns
I have heard of United Way, but I don’t know what you actually do. What do you do?
United Way has been an integral part of the Kent County for nearly 100 years. We have
always played a unique role in connecting community resources to pressing community
needs through direct programming, community engagement, and partnerships with local
nonprofit agencies, companies, donors, volunteers, and numerous collaborations. We
support more than 50 local, nonprofit organizations that provide basic needs services (food,
housing, utility assistance, transportation), and we work to identify and identify the root
causes of instability in our community. In the three critical areas of education, income, and
health, our goals are to increase the high school graduation rate, increase financial stability,
improve access to health care, and reduce obesity.
Why should I give to United Way?
We often find that the best way to talk about United Way is with a story: When Amy left her
abusive partner, she had nowhere to go. “I was in a relationship that was not safe for me,” she
says. “In order to become safe, I needed to leave that relationship and in doing so, I became
homeless.” Alone, discouraged, and lacking the financial independence needed to obtain
housing, Amy lived out of her car. Through Dwelling Place, she was able to find affordable, safe
housing. However, she also needed additional assistance truly get her life back on track. She
received help from the YWCA, Women’s Resource Center, Pine Rest, Steepletown
Neighborhood Service, and Disability Advocates. Heart of West Michigan United Way funds all
of those agencies! Today, Amy lives in her own apartment, has full time employment and is off
all public assistance.
The needs in Kent County are complex and they cannot be addressed by one person, one
agency, or one community organization. Heart of West Michigan United Way is able to
connect thousands of donors to more than 50 local organizations. We live by a common
belief that a great community provides its people with the building blocks to a fulfilling life: a
quality education, basic needs and a safe place to live, financial self-sufficiency, and access
to quality health care. By coming together around these goals, we can make sustainable
changes that transform lives and build a strong community for us all.
Responding to concerns during workplace campaigns
Where does my contribution go?
Every day, Heart of West Michigan United Way support helps 1 in 4 people in Kent
County. United Way exists to provide unity among health and human service organizations,
allowing them to work more efficiently and be more effective. By forging collaborative
partnerships, we have our pulse on the community to determine the greatest needs and set
priorities in education, income, and health. All gifts made to Heart of West United Way’s
Community Investment Fund stay here in Kent County to support more than 50 nonprofit
organizations. Local people volunteer their time to vet and review all of the nonprofits we fund in
the areas of quality programming, governance, finance, and administration.
What are United Way’s administrative costs?
Heart of West Michigan United Way’s administrative and fundraising costs are 13%. That is
below the national average for nonprofits, which is 17%. United Way also helps hundreds of
other nonprofits maintain low overhead rates by providing volunteers and facilities management.
We also ask you to pay attention to other factors of our performance: transparency, governance,
leadership, and results. For years, our organization has been working to increase the depth and
breadth of the information we provide to donors in these areas so as to provide a much fuller
picture of Heart of West Michigan United Way’s performance.
I would like to help, but just can’t afford it.
Any amount makes a difference. A payroll deduction pledge allows you to make a generous
contribution in manageable portions each pay period. There is strength in numbers, and the
impact of your contribution is magnified exponentially when combined with the contributions of
your co-workers, friends, and neighbors.
My spouse gives for both of us.
Each person’s gift to United Way is critical. If each of us gives what we can, we can meet the
growing needs in the region.
Does United Way condone pressure in giving?
No. Contributions to United Way are voluntary. Acts of coercion in any form are unacceptable.
This is very important to Heart of West Michigan United Way. We believe that the most
responsive contributors are those who are informed about the important work we do. An
effective communications program, conducted by committed volunteers and supported by a
well-planned campaign, encourages an enthusiastic response.
Responding to concerns during workplace campaigns
I have given generously in the past. Why should I increase my gift?
Your prior generosity is greatly appreciated. However, the economic reality confronting our
region has left more people needing help, many of whom have never had to ask for assistance.
At the same time, local agencies and programs are faced with dwindling resources as they try to
help a growing number of families and individuals. Increased contributions are needed to keep
up with rising costs, need, and service organizations struggling to keep pace.
Can I designate where my contribution goes?
Yes. Although your contribution makes the largest impact when it is undesignated and directed
to our Community Investment Fund, if you prefer designate your money directly to one of our
partner agencies or any other health and human service agency, you are free to do so.
I pay my own way. I’m not going to use these services, so why should I support them?
Maybe you’ve never needed help, but statistics show that you or a member of your family
probably have or will rely on United Way or one of our community partners at some point in your
lives. Every day, 1 in 4 people in Kent County are supported by Heart of West Michigan United
Way. Giving to United Way ensures that there is a place to turn in times of need – whenever
that might be! Even if you never need to use the services directly, you get back your investment
in other ways, too: You child’s school is better, because more students are ready to learn; your
neighborhood is safer, because more residents make a productive living; and, our community is
healthier, because more people have access to health services. When more individuals and
families are stable, our community as a whole thrives.
Aren’t all United Ways the same? There was controversy in the news about my old
United Way that concerns me.
United Ways are all independent organizations governed at the local level. Funds raised stay in
the community and are allocated by local community members. We are a transparent
organization focused on community impact in the areas of education, income and health. We
welcome your review of our annual report and financial statements.
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