Frequently Asked Questions

How is United Way different from other nonprofit organizations?

No other single organization meets the broad range of needs addressed by United Way. United Way goes beyond fundraising by researching the needs of the community and bringing the right resources and people together to solve tough local issues. We work with business, government, and partner agencies to develop regional health and human service policies and strategies. We fund programs that are meeting people’s needs today, and we are working on innovative solutions for lasting change. United Way monitors the performance of grant-funded projects and reports results to donors. It also recruits and trains volunteers for non-profit agencies and provides volunteer resources. And to top it off, United Way makes it easy for everyone to get involved.

Why give to United Way?

You make a difference. You are making an investment that benefits the entire community, not just one program, issue, or population, and this leads to a stronger, more sustainable place to live and work. It is a smart investment. United Way provides expert management of donor investments and brings the right people, ideas, and resources together to solve the most pressing needs of our community and finds innovative solutions for lasting change. United Way leverages your contribution by combining it with others and strategically investing in results-driven programs and initiatives to maximize the impact we have in the community. It is easy and convenient. With payroll deduction and donor designations it is easy to give back in a way that matters to you. Spreading your giving throughout the year makes it easier to increase your giving while still staying within your budget.

What if I don’t think I can afford to give?

By using United Way’s payroll deduction plan, you can invest a small amount each pay period, and see it add up to a significant gift by year’s end. Your investment combined with thousands of others will have a real, measurable impact in the community. Skipping just one latte a week can add up to more than $180, which could provide two weeks of childcare so a single mother can work.

Why invest the United Way Community Impact Fund?

Making significant progress on community-wide problems requires a community-wide effort. Resources of nonprofit service providers are most effectively used if they are aligned and collectively deployed. Contributing to the Community Impact Fund supports an effort of “collective impact”, with your dollars being strategically allocated to a variety of organizations, programs and partnerships that work together toward better health, education and financial stability of our residents. We know that community issues don’t stand alone. Financial stability of a family depends on education, and health is related to both financial stability and education. The problems are interrelated and it makes sense that the solutions are interrelated. Through the Community Impact Fund, the contributions of thousands of individual donors become a force for change in the community.

Where does the money go?

United Way volunteers invest your Community Impact Fund contributions in local programs that are proven to make our community stronger and safer and help people live better lives. Your contributions fund large scale collaborations, individual agencies and specific programs focused on the most significant community needs in the areas of education, health and financial stability in Portage County. For a complete list of United Way’s currently funded programs visit the link here.

Can I give directly to my favorite agency?

The donor choice program is comprehensive, allowing designations to other United Ways, affiliated agencies, non-affiliated agencies, impact areas, (as well as the option to exclude any affiliated agency.) A donor may designate a portion or the full amount of his or her contribution to any 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

What else does United Way do besides fund agencies?

In addition to raising and investing dollars, United Way brings together community stakeholders, contributors, and agency partners to create collaborative and innovative approaches to help solve community issues. United Way also coordinates a variety of initiatives and programs such as the Volunteer Center, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, Big Red Bookshelf, Reading Role Models, Day of Caring and more. Visit and click on OUR WORK to learn more.

How do people get help from United Way?

United Way supports 40 programs throughout Portage County that help people every day. A list of these programs and our partner agencies can be found at this link. People looking for assistance should contact 2-1-1 for free referral services or visit

How much of the money raised by United Way is used for administrative purposes?

About 18 cents of every dollar raised by United Way of Portage County is used for fundraising and administration - making it one of the lowest overhead costs of any nonprofit in the nation. For that reason, the National Charities Information Board rates our United Way "excellent" in putting resources to work. United Way can be this efficient because community support keeps costs to a bare minimum - including extensive volunteer leadership, executives "loaned" by companies, public service advertising donations and more.

Our employees and their families are struggling. How can we ask them to give?

Time and again, some of the most generous givers are those who themselves have struggled and needed a helping hand from our community. Everyone should be given an opportunity to express caring through charitable giving, to enjoy the emotional reward that comes from knowing her or she has helped our community become safer and stronger.

Do any United Way agencies perform abortions?

Abortion is not funded through United Way of Portage County. A full list of programs supported by United Way of Portage County can be found at  

How do the troubles at other United Ways and other nonprofits affect our United Way?

They do not. Each one of the 1,400 United Ways in the country is autonomous and managed by local volunteers. In Portage County, volunteer leaders from all walks of life are involved in and oversee every detail of United Way operations, from fundraising to investments to financial management.