Frequently asked questions

What is United Way Toronto?

United Way Toronto is a registered charity dedicated to improving lives and strengthening neighbourhoods across Toronto. United Way makes a difference every single day by identifying needs and taking action to create a better, safer, stronger city through research, partnerships, and support of a network of 200 health and social service agencies.

United Way, an international, volunteer-led not-for-profit organization, has 123 local United Ways in Canada. United Way is known as Centraide in Quebec and Ottawa and other French-speaking communities across Canada.

Each United Way-Centraide raises money and allocates funds locally to support its community. Each United Way-Centraide is governed by an autonomous local Board of Directors that, with other volunteers and staff, helps build caring communities and responds to a broad range of human needs.

When was United Way formed?

The first United Way was created in Denver, Colorado in 1887. In Toronto, the first federated fundraising effort for community services was launched in 1918. The name changed several times over the years, ranging from Community Chest to Red Feather to United Appeal.

In 1956, business, labour and community leaders joined forces to found the present-day United Way Toronto. Since 1956, United Way Toronto has raised over $1.5-billion to help the community.

What is United Way Toronto’s Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy?

Launched in 2005, United Way’s five-year Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy aims to strengthen underserved, inner suburban communities. The strategy focuses on newcomers and youth in the 13 Priority Neighbourhoods identified by United Way and the City of Toronto for targeted investment and support.

Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC), a resident-led neighbourhood engagement initiative of the strategy, is at work in 13 of the 13 Priority Neighbourhoods. ANC gives residents the opportunity and the tools they need to foster a sense of community, develop priorities and plans for a neighbourhood vision, and meet local needs by connecting with businesses, services providers, government and funders.

Also as part of the strategy, United Way is also supporting the development of eight Community Hubs in priority neighbourhoods. The hubs will bring people in communities together and connect them to services they need.

What makes an organization eligible for United Way Toronto funding?

For United Way Toronto funding, an organization must:

  • Be a non-profit, registered charitable organization that does not exist solely for the purpose of furthering a particular political or religious objective.
  • Be incorporated and registered as a charitable organization under the Canada Income Tax Act.
  • Provide programs and services of a social or health-related nature.
  • Meet a vital local community need.
  • Be operated by a volunteer Board of Directors that reflects the community it serves. This board must be responsible for the development, delivery and evaluation of services and the efficient and effective management of the agency’s programs and budget.
  • Effectively use volunteers in the delivery of service.
  • Be supportive of United Way Toronto, our operating policies and campaign efforts.

How are agencies assessed?

Each agency that applies for funding is assessed through United Way Toronto’s volunteer agency review process. Staff and volunteers visit the agencies and evaluate their submissions based on the following criteria:

  • Program effectiveness — does the agency meet its mandate and demonstrate positive impact in the community?
  • Accessibility — do staff and volunteers reflect the community being served and address any identified barriers to accessibility?
  • Resource management — does the agency demonstrate an effective and efficient use of resources?
  • Need for United Way Toronto funding — does the agency demonstrate a practical need for United Way Toronto dollars and present a proposed budget that is realistic?
  • Agency support for United Way Toronto — does the agency help promote United Way Toronto and demonstrate support for our policies and procedures?

Does United Way Toronto provide grant funding for projects?

United Way Toronto provides time-limited grants to a number of citywide initiatives such as:

  • Focus on Youth — supporting school-based recreational and leadership programs for children and youth during the summer.
  • Success By 6® — supporting pre- and post-natal programs, family resource centres, parenting programs, and school-readiness initiatives.
  • Toronto Enterprise Fund — supporting initiatives that create job or training opportunities and community support for people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
  • Winter Relief Grants — supporting drop-in services, shelter, food or clothing programs for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness during the winter months.
  • Re-Mix — supporting a youth-led urban arts program that uses urban music and culture as a bridge to employment, education, and training (note that this is a special initiative aimed at supporting a specific group of recipients only).
  • Toronto Sport Leadership Program — providing youth from priority neighbourhoods with the opportunity to certify and find employment as lifeguards, swim instructors, and soccer and basketball coaches (note that this is a special initiative aimed at supporting a specific group of recipients only).
  • Bridge to Success — providing students in grade nine at North Albion Collegiate in North Etobicoke with mentoring, tutoring and experiential learning opportunities to help them stay in school (note that this is a special initiative aimed at supporting a specific group of recipients only).

Where do I go for help?

There are four valuable resources accessible from this website under the Agency Info tab. You can:

  • Link to—a directory of more than 20,000 community, social, health and government services (or dial 211)
  • Visit United Way Toronto’s online Directory of Service, which lists all of our member agencies with descriptions and contact information
  • Search for an agency in your neighbourhood using our interactive Member Agency Map

How do I get involved with United Way Toronto?

United Way Toronto offers short- and long-term volunteer opportunities. You can get involved with your workplace campaign, volunteer at a special event such as the Enbridge CN Tower Climb for United Way, sit on a committee, or give back to the community through United Way’s workplace Community Connections program.

To find a volunteer opportunity that’s right for you, explore the following resources:

Does United Way Toronto adhere to a fundraising code of ethics?

United Way is a flagship member of Imagine Canada’s national Standards Program — leading the way in safeguarding donor rights by demonstrating the highest degree of transparency and accountability.

The Program provides a set of standards for charitable organizations covering everything from governance to ethical fundraising. United Way has demonstrated compliance with over 70 standards and in many cases exceeded sector expectations. For more information visit Imagine Canada.

What is United Way Toronto’s privacy policy?

United Way Toronto is committed to protecting the privacy of its donors and other individuals about or from whom we collect personal information.

United Way Toronto embraces the principles of the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information to ensure that all personal information is properly collected, used only for the purposes for which it is collected and is disposed of in a safe and timely manner when no longer required.

Privacy is a growing concern for many individuals. Maintaining the highest standard of responsibility to safeguard our donors’ privacy is key to upholding the public’s trust. This is why United Way Toronto accepts as much as possible the tenets of the privacy legislation. The primary principles reflecting legislation and embodied in our privacy policy are:

  • We are accountable for your personal information.
  • We collect, use and disclose personal information only for certain purposes that we identify to you.
  • We obtain your consent to collect, use or disclose your personal information.
  • We keep your personal information accurate and up-to-date to the best of our knowledge.
  • We do not sell your personal information. We share your information with other organizations only with your permission.
  • We will keep your personal information only as long as it is necessary to satisfy the purposes for which it was obtained, or as required by law.
  • We will protect your personal information by safeguards that are appropriate to the sensitivity of that information.
  • We will be open about our privacy practices.
  • You may ask us if we hold any personal information about you. You may ensure that it’s accurate and view that information, as provided by law.

If you are not satisfied with our handling of your personal information, our Privacy Officer will respond to your concerns or complaints. You may register a privacy-related complaint by contacting United Way Toronto’s Privacy Officer at 416-777-2001 or

What is the Youth Challenge Fund and how is United Way Toronto affiliated with it?

The Youth Challenge Fund is a special purpose charitable trust fund with a mandate that brings together government and privately-raised funds in a common purpose: to improve opportunities for Toronto’s young people, particularly in the city’s 13 Priority Neighbourhood areas. Premier McGuinty announced the Fund in February 2006.

United Way serves as the trustee of Youth Challenge Fund, providing expert oversight, allocations and fund development. To learn more and donate to the Youth Challenge Fund, visit

Why is there a $12 designation fee if I want to donate outside of United Way Toronto?

The $12 designation fee is necessary to cover the costs associated with processing and remitting funds to other charities. United Way Toronto receipts donors for the full amount of donation, including the $12 designation fee.

Designated giving through United Way Toronto is only available with workplace campaigns, not online.

Where can I get a copy of my tax receipt for my tax return?

If you require a copy of your tax receipt, please email or call 416-777-2001.

Please note that if your gift to United Way was part of a workplace campaign by payroll deduction, you will not receive a separate tax receipt as the donation is recorded on the T4 statement from your employer.

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