United Way of Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen (CSO) is a registered charity dedicated to improving lives and strengthening neighbourhoods in 22 communities from Lake Country to Osoyoos and over to Princeton. United Way makes a difference every single day by identifying needs and taking action to create a safer, stronger, healthier and more inclusive region through research, partnerships and direct capacity-building support of dozens of local community-based health and social-service agencies.
United Way is an international, volunteer-led not-for-profit movement. There are more than 100 autonomous local United Ways across Canada each serving the distinct needs of its home region. Donations made to the United Way remain in that local territory to build the strength of its social services sector for local residents.
The United Way Movement began in Canada in 1917 under a different name. The national organization was created in 1939 and officially took the name United Way of Canada – Centraide Canada in 1976. Over the years we have been known by many names – among them Community Chest, United Appeal and Red Feather. Please click here for more information on the history of the United Way Centraide Movement in Canada. United Way CSO has served this region for over 65 years.
We partner with more than 40 local social service organizations. These agencies provide vital supports and opportunities to 85,000 people in 22 communities throughout the Okanagan. None of the money is given to government. While donors can designate their donations to specific charities, our priority is helping people within our community. Please see our Annual Report and Community Investment Reports for a full list of our funded partners.
Donations are distributed as community investments based on advice from local volunteers drawn from a cross-section of our donors. We typically have 30 Impact Team volunteers, all dedicated to making a difference in the community, who share their time and expertise in evaluating local projects. The volunteers review proposals, financial statements and interview charity representatives to make sure investments have the type of measurable results we need in order to make positive changes in the areas of child development, family income, and healthy communities.
If you contributed via payroll deduction at your workplace, it should be reflected on your T4. Therefore a receipt is not required. Otherwise, a tax receipt will be generated in a timely manner at the beginning of the new year. If you do not receive your tax receipt before the end of February, please contact us at 250-860-2356 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our operating costs are well below the 35% recommended by the Canada Revenue Agency. On average, our fundraising costs account for 25% of our total expenses. This is competitive with the top non-profit organizations across Canada. In turn, United Way helps local non-profits keep their costs low since workplace campaigns organized by local volunteers are more cost-effective than traditional fundraising.
Executive salaries at United Ways across Canada are established through a comparison of executive compensation at other charities, an assessment of roles and responsibilities, and a commitment to spending dollars wisely.
The Canada Revenue Agency requires charities to complete an annual return that provides factual information on fundraising costs and the salary ranges of their most highly paid employees. People can visit the CRA Charities Listings to find current and accurate information on charity finances. We also publish our annual report, investment fact sheets, and audited financial statements on our website.
United Ways across Canada work together as a movement. We have donors who request their annual gift go to their home community. So the donor’s gift is recorded on the books of say Ottawa, Vancouver or Edmonton, but the donation is invested and improving the lives of residents in the Okanagan.
Secondly, we have province-wide initiatives that United Ways undertake in partnership. An illustration is the Better at Home program that helps seniors remain independent and healthy in their home. The United Way of Lower Mainland acts as our lead agency with this provincial initiative, and we support it locally. So this community investment is not captured on our financial statements, but donors can take comfort in knowing that United Way dollars are working to support 810 seniors in their homes in the Okanagan.
Finally, we are fortunate each year to have donors who provide a gift to community in their estate. Occasionally these are large bequests, and so the incoming revenue is recognized in one fiscal year, but the investment takes place at the neighbourhood level over consecutive years.
In 2001, the United Way Centraide Movement launched a Strategic Alignment Initiative to identify local and international issues and trends and to identify how to build a stronger, more vibrant and strategically aligned Movement. The result – for the first time in the history of the Movement, United Ways Centraides share a common mission, aspirations and values which were adopted at the May 2003 Annual General Meeting.
United Way Centraide’s Community Impact mission is to “improve lives and build community by engaging people and mobilizing collective action.” We do this by investing in three focus areas that support all that kids can be, move people from poverty to possibility and builds healthy, strong communities. We also invest resources in local capacity building and community initiatives that support our mission.