Frequently Asked Questions
United Way of the Columbia-Willamette harnesses the collective power of individual generosity to build strong, connected and engaged communities. We have the tools and the know-how to connect people in need with the building blocks for a stable and healthy life—education, financial stability and health and well-being.
Your support creates change. When you give money to United Way, you directly fund local projects that connect people with jobs, provide affordable housing and promote healthy living. When you volunteer your time and talent, you help children achieve in school or you give seniors and people with disabilities newfound autonomy. When you use your voice, you help set priorities that will provide opportunity for everyone in our community.
We know our community. Every dollar of every donation to United Way goes to projects that work.
Your local United Way was founded in 1920.
United Way knows our community. We know where money should be spent so people in need get the education and training to succeed in life and work, the tools to build financial stability and the same opportunities for health and well-being. Every dollar of every donation to United Way goes to projects that work. And you have the opportunity to choose where your gift goes.
A small amount every month can add up by year's end. There are other ways to give back to the community too. We provide a range of volunteer opportunities that help connect people with education, a living wage, financial stability and healthcare. Advocacy is a simple and effective way to use your voice and create change in our community.
- Cash, check, credit card or debit card
- Stock, securities or real estate
Yes. Through United Way of the Columbia-Willamette you can give to any registered tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The best way to make the greatest positive impact and achieve results for our community is to donate to United Way's Community Impact Fund. Every dollar you donate goes directly to projects that create change in our community. Giving to the Community Impact Fund or our specific focus areas of education, financial stability and health ensures that you are investing in projects that yield measurable results and meet the needs of our community. With your dollars, projects multiply the effect of your donation because we are able to help agencies leverage more public and private funding. United Way invests strategically to create long-term systemic changes. We encourage you to support causes that are important to you, but also consider giving a gift to United Way's Community Impact Fund to provide the building blocks people need to create opportunities for everyone in our community to have a good life.
Thanks to Cornerstone Partners, who cover our operating expenses, every dollar you give goes to fund critical programs in our community. We also work hard to keep costs as low as possible. In the most recent audited fiscal statements (year ending June 30, 2011), United Way's operating cost was 14.2% percent. Of this, 7.8% was for fundraising and 6.4% for administrative costs, including pledge processing. To put this in context, GuideStar and the Better Business Bureau recommend overhead of under 35%, Charity Navigator recommends under 17.5%.
No. United Way is based on the concept of voluntary giving and we believe that no one should ever be pressured into giving. If you feel pressured, we want to know about it. Please contact Rose Hart, Marketing and Communications Specialist, at 503-228-9131 or via email.
Don't just take our word for it! Learn more about our financials or through any of these charity evaluators.
- We have four out of four stars from Charity Navigator.
- We're a GuideStar Exchange partner.
- We're a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity.
United Way uses a grant funding model called Community Impact to strategically invest in partners and projects that demonstrate efficient and effective use of resources to create positive outcomes in our community. Through a community engagement process, we conduct research to identify and prioritize the needs in our community. In this way, we determine the best strategies for investing your dollars to create measurable results. Over 80 volunteers, experts and United Way staff work together to determine funding priorities and identify the best ways to overcome challenges in the four counties we serve. With your dollars, you help us fund projects that ensure youth graduate high school with skills and resources for life, work and continuing education; individuals and families have living wage jobs and safe housing that they can afford; and people are healthy and safe in a supportive community.
We help people give by volunteering; through our Hands On Greater Portland program, we make 26,000 volunteer connections with 400 nonprofits, schools and community organizations in need. We connected 754 corporate volunteers who donated 3016 hours last year. We can set up volunteer projects for your company tailored to your interests, time commitment and corporate social responsibility priorities.
United Way supports health care access, isn't the government health care plan taking care of people?
Health is more than just health care. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette focuses on various aspects of health to promote wellness— not just health care. In terms of the Affordable Care Act, many components will not be fully implemented until 2014. From now and beyond 2014, there will still be gaps and people will fall through the cracks. United Way works with Project Access Now and other partners to ensure that people have access to healthcare services to support physical, dental and mental health. We also fund projects that help to create safe and healthy environments to improve the overall health of individuals and our community. United Way is committed to working with our neighbors and health professionals to help make sure that government dollars are invested wisely to get our communities the preventative care they need before they experience serious health-related problems.
United Way invests in projects in Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington and Clark counties.
In the 2011-12 campaign our generous donors raised $22 million for the community.
We invest in 48 innovative, results-based local projects. You can also direct your gift to any 501(c)3 nonprofit.
We fund ongoing strategic initiatives that have proven results in supporting our mission. These include:
- Community Relief Fund: Helps families in need with emergency food, rent, utility and prescription assistance.
- Earned Income Tax Credit: Helps low-income working families get the tax credits they deserve through free tax preparation and filing.
- 211info: Provides free referrals to community resources.
- Project Access NOW: Helps low-income and uninsured people access free health care.
- Labor's Community Service: Assists unemployed workers with emergency rent and utility assistance.
We are committed to a more diverse and inclusive workplace, community and region and have implemented strategies to learn more about each other through hosting community conversations, ethnic events, and educational forums. If you or your company are interested in learning more or co-hosting with us, please give us a call.
United Way convenes non-profits, diverse communities, business, local government, faith community and education groups together to work on issues impacting our region. By collaborating, we are able achieve greater outcomes.
Thanks to your support, we help over 100,000 people each year in the Portland metro area.