FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

You are here

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Q: WHAT IS UNITED WAY?

A: United Way is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) agency that brings people together to create a thriving community. We partner with local nonprofits, businesses, government and social service agencies to address our community's most pressing needs.

Q: WHO AND WHERE DO YOU HELP?

A: Even though our office is located in Tacoma, United Way of Pierce County supports the entire Pierce County community. We make an intentional effort to fund programs and initiatives that serve the whole community and while we recognize that some areas need more help than others, we are committed to making sure the needs of the entire county are reflected in our work.

Q: WHO RUNS UNITED WAY?

A: United Way of Pierce County is a volunteer-driven organization. Our Board of Directors represents many different areas of the community including labor, the military, nonprofits and corporations. All policy and investment decisions made at United Way of Pierce County are approved by the volunteers serving on our board.

Q: ARE UNITED WAYS RELATED?

A: There are 1,400 community-based United Ways across the country and each is separately incorporated and independently governed by local volunteers. Many of these organizations are similar in their mission and structure, but some are very different.

We pay a voluntary membership contribution for the rights to use the name and logo, and support broader community impact goals through United Way Worldwide, an umbrella organization that attacks the same problems on a national and global level, and provides guidance, training and development services to local United Ways. These dues are less than 1 percent of each dollar contributed.

Contributions raised in our county stay here and decisions about which programs to invest in and which partnerships to pursue are made here in our local community.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR FOCUS?

A: United Way of Pierce County is focused on Strong Families, Successful Kids and Connected Communities. By making an early investment in our children and their families, we can help remove the barriers preventing them from breaking the cycle of poverty.  

Strong Start for Kids
We want to ensure a strong start for kids by increasing the number of children who are ready for kindergarten from 44 percent to 90 percent.

Early Grade Excellence
We want to ensure early grade success by increasing the number of children reading at grade level by the end of third grade from 75 percent to 90.

Strengthening Families
We want to increase the number of families that are financially stable by 4,000.

Basic Needs and Supportive Services
We want to meet the basic needs of families and individuals through investments in food, housing and other essentials.

Q: HOW MUCH MONEY WAS RAISED LAST YEAR?

A: Thanks to our generous community, this year’s campaign raised a total of $5.4 million dollars. Combined with other revenue such as grants and in-kind donations the grand total raised for the community in 2015 was $8.5 million dollars.

Q: HOW MUCH OF MY DONATED DOLLAR GOES TO ADMINISTRATION AND HOW MUCH GOES TO SUPPORT TO COMMUNITY PROGRAMS?

A: United Way of Pierce County is one of the most cost-effective organizations in the country. While we do have a low administrative fee, the unique work of United Way allows us to turn every dollar donated into $1.36 invested in the community. Our average administrative rate over the past five years is 17.5 percent. You can trust your gift is being used wisely, as the Better Business Bureau has recognized United Way of Pierce County as a Western Washington Charity Seal Holder through their Wise Giving Guide based on our rate, transparency, and efficiency.

United Way combines financial gifts with grants, in-kind product donations and volunteer service to amplify gifts further. The work of United Way also leverages local, state and private funding to make your donation do even more. United Way of Pierce County researches the issues, advocate for state funding, secure grants for local efforts, administers vital programs like South Sound 2-1-1 and audits every investment we make to ensure your gift is used well.

Q: WHY DONATE THROUGH UNITED WAY OF PIERCE COUNTY?

A: While we are known for our fundraising efforts, many people don’t know that United Way leverages gifts received to turn a $1 gift into over $1.31 in value to the community.

There are many organizations out there doing really great work in their area of specialty. What is unique about the work of United Way of Pierce County is that we don’t just help with one need. After 95 years in the human service business, we recognize that a person in need typically has more than one need.

We also don’t just fund programs: we work collaboratively with other nonprofits and municipalities to look at the systems that support those issues. We partner to examine places where our efforts intersect to identify and fund gaps in the system. We also support both approaches with our advocacy and volunteer efforts, resources like the South Sound 2-1-1 call center that links thousands of individuals in Pierce County each year to needed services.

Before United Way of Pierce County invests $1 in a program, our volunteers thoroughly research the program, the agency and the services it provides to determine which services best meet the needs of people in our community.  After an investment is made, those volunteers continue to evaluate the program and make sure that your money is being used wisely and impacting lives.

Q: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SPENDING MY DONATED DOLLAR?

A: United Way’s Investment Review Panel volunteers have the important job of studying the human service needs, strengths and resources in Pierce County. These local volunteers review applications for funds, visit programs and research issues to determine which services best meet the needs of people in our community. Who decides? Local volunteers, people like you.

Q: HOW DOES UWPC MAKE SURE OUR DOLLARS ARE REALLY WORKING? WHAT ARE THE STANDARDS THAT NEED TO BE MET?

A: All programs funded through the United Way of Pierce County investment process are required to document and report annually on pre-agreed upon outcomes. All investments to advance collaborative work in areas such as early learning, housing, health care and economic security also have agreed-upon quantifiable outcomes.

Q: WHAT IS THE BREAKING THE CYCLE FUND?

A: Gifts that are not designated by the donor to another nonprofit through our community campaign create the Breaking the Cycle Fund. The majority of our 10,000 donors do not designate their gift, so the Breaking the Cycle Fund creates a sustainable base of resources to keep over a hundred human service programs serving people in need in Pierce County. In 2014, a new three-year funding cycle for the Breaking the Cycle Fund began and community volunteers like you invested these resources to have the greatest impact. 

Q: WHY SHOULD I GIVE TO THE BREAKING THE CYCLE FUND AND NOT TO A SPECIFIC AGENCY?

A: Giving to the Breaking the Cycle Fund is the best way to help the most people. Your gifts to the Breaking the Cycle Fund are investments in Children and Families, helping them reach their potential and be successful. Your gift to the Breaking the Cycle Fund also supports our most vulnerable by providing basic needs and supportive services.

Q: IF I DESIGNATE MY GIFT TO A CERTAIN AGENCY, DOES THAT REDUCE THE FUNDS THEY MIGHT RECEIVE OTHERWISE FROM UNITED WAY OF PIERCE COUNTY?

A: No. Designated and undesignated gifts to United Way of Pierce County are distributed separately.

Q: IF I DON’T LIKE A PARTICULAR AGENCY, CAN I CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE MY DOLLARS GO TO THAT AGENCY?

A: If you want to direct your dollars, just designate your United Way gift to those organizations you wish to support. You can do that easily on the United Way pledge form.

Q: DOES UNITED WAY INVEST IN THE BOY SCOUTS?

A: The Boy Scouts of America did not complete the application process for the 2014-2016 funding cycle and, as a result, are not currently funded.

Q: DOES UNITED WAY INVEST IN PLANNED PARENTHOOD?

A: Planned Parenthood has never applied for funding through United Way of Pierce County and as a result, is not currently funded.

Q: I’M ON A TIGHT BUDGET. HOW CAN I AFFORD TO GIVE?

A: Every gift counts. When you reach out a hand to one, you influence the condition of all. That’s what LIVE UNITED means. Even a modest pledge per pay period can help provide vital services to people in need in our community. By giving though payroll deduction, you can spread your gift throughout the year. Your gift, combined with that of your friends, neighbors and co-workers, adds up and can truly make a difference in our community.

You can also volunteer your time through United Way's Volunteer Center or donate new and gently-used items to United Way’s Gifts in Kind program where they will be distributed to other nonprofit organizations serving those in need throughout Pierce County.

Q: I DON'T BENEFIT, SO WHY SHOULD I GIVE?

A: While you may not access the services funded by United Way of Pierce County, we all can benefit from a thriving community. By investing in children and their families, we empower them to break the cycle of poverty which will ultimately result in better neighbors, a more employable workforce and fewer people who rely on services for their basic needs.

Additionally, you, a family member, friend or coworker may have already used the services of United Way partner agencies without realizing it.

Q: HOW DO I GIVE TO UNITED WAY?

A: You can give securely online by credit card. You can also mail a check to:

United Way of Pierce County
1501 Pacific Ave, Suite 400
Tacoma, WA 98402

Thank you for supporting United Way.

Q: WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

A: South Sound 2-1-1, operated by United Way of Pierce County, can connect you to vital community resources—from job training programs and childcare to counseling services and financial assistance. Staffed by trained referral specialists, this confidential help line is free.

Just dial 2-1-1 from any land line or access the 2-1-1 database via our web site or the 2-1-1 app.

Q: HOW DO I VOLUNTEER TO HELP UNITED WAY?

A: United Way of Pierce County’s Volunteer Center matches thousands of people annually to volunteer projects with United Way community partners throughout Pierce County. Volunteers help these nonprofits achieve their missions and make a lasting difference in our community. Learn more about the Volunteer Center.

Q: HOW CAN MY AGENCY BECOME A UNITED WAY AGENCY?

A: Agencies interested in United Way funding can apply for a grant during the application process. United Way of Pierce County funds on a three-year cycle and applications will be accepted in the summer of 2016.

Q: HOW DO I BECOME A CORPORATE PARTNER WITH UNITED WAY?

A: Companies in Pierce County are making a difference by partnering with United Way. Learn more about how you can get involved by contacting Stephen Deal at (253) 597-8105 or stephend@uwpc.org.