United Way FAQ


Below are some common questions we are asked, we hope they help but if you don’t see an answer or want more clarification please feel free to contact us!

Is my United Way a local or national organization?
United Way of the Wine Country is LOCAL organization that is part of a worldwide network. Every United Way is autonomous; locally governed, organized and operated. The United Way network includes more than 1,300 community-based United Way organizations in the United States and around the world. Each is independent, separately incorporated, and governed by a local, volunteer Board of Directors. Because of the unique conditions in diverse communities, the issues United Ways address are determined locally. When you give to United Way of the Wine Country, your dollars stay local.

Is United Way really different from other nonprofits?
You bet. United Way of the Wine Country is unique in the way it makes an impact in the community. We no longer simply raise and distribute money to nonprofits. Today’s complex problems require proactive, permanent solutions. Our history of leadership enables us to spearhead comprehensive, community-wide change. We are a catalyst, a convener and a collaborator. Our work brings people together to determine the root causes of our community’s most challenging problems and to do whatever it takes to achieve measurable and long-lasting results. No other organization enables a donor’s gift to make such a broad impact across the community and, no other organization promotes giving to other organizations as part of our mission.

Who determines how my donation is spent?
Volunteers. Individuals like you, who represent a broad spectrum of our five-county region, serve on the United Way Board of Directors and Regional Councils. United Way of the Wine Country is a local organization making local decisions on how monies are raised and how monies are spent. From initiatives like Schools of Hope and Earn It! Keep It! $ave It! to services like 2-1-1, to investments in partner agency programs focused on Education, Income and Health, and a campaign that that distributes over $1Million to a large variety of local nonprofits, your investments truly make a difference.

What are United Way’s priorities in Wine Country?
We’re focused on the critical local issues in education, income and health. We address these important issues through our Community Fund.

Why should I give to United Way instead of directly to a specific agency?
We all have special interests, and we would not ask you to support United Way at the expense of another charitable organization. There are critical issues in our community that cannot be solved by a single agency alone. United Way’s broad partnerships, coordinated planning and needs assessments and commitment to measurable results ensure that your gift will be used wisely and effectively to meet our community’s most critical needs as a whole.

Is United Way just a fundraiser?
NO! We do far more than just fundraising. United Way is a partner in change, working with a broad range of people and organizations to identify pressing community issues and develop long term solutions. Our fundraising efforts are one way we bring about positive change in community conditions because the campaign gives us the ability to fund needed services, programs and initiatives. United Way also works to:
• Identify community needs and priorities
• Invest in and lead community wide initiatives
• Facilitate the efforts of those who can help bring about needed positive changes
• Monitor funded partners to ensure donor’s investments are used efficiently
• Promote volunteerism county-wide
• Advocate on behalf of our community’s most critical issues

Where does my United Way contribution go?
Your United Way contribution stays right here in Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, unless you designate it elsewhere. United Way dollars are targeted to meet critical community needs in the community and invest in long-term solutions to solve the most critical issues.

How much of my contribution goes to help people?
According to our most recent IRS assessment, approximately 75 cents of every dollar received by United Way goes directly to the programs/services we support to help strengthen our community. United Way of the Wine Country is always striving to make the most efficient and effective use of your contributions to the annual campaign.

Does United Way charge a processing fee if I designate to an agency?
In order to reimburse United Way for processing expenses, a 16% processing fee is charged on all contributions designated to a specific agency. United Way does not pay the designated agency until the donor’s pledge payment is received by United Way.  If United Way receives payments on pledges to a designated agency amounting to more than $250, we pay the designated agency quarterly (i.e. July, October, January, & April).  If United Way receives payments on a pledges to a designated agency amounting to less than $250, we pay the designated agency semi-annually (i.e. July & January).