FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What does United Way do?

At United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley (UWGLV), we assess community conditions, invest in focused community impact goals and measure results to create long-term change for generations to come. Our work ensures that children are ready to learn when they enter school and read at grade-level which has a direct correlation to higher graduation rates, families have access to nutritious food, seniors stay safe and healthy in their own homes, and investments are made in critical emergency services. We focus our investments on the root causes and not just the symptoms to build a stronger, healthier community. Learn more about what we do.

Why should I give to United Way?

United Way is your local partner to drive measurable, lasting impact that none of us can achieve alone. UWGLV makes a difference in the lives of almost 60,000 people throughout the Lehigh Valley each year. We focus on the root causes of our community’s priority issues to create long-lasting systemic change. We all win when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, and when our neighbors are healthy. It takes everyone in the community working to build a stronger, healthier Lehigh Valley. Together we can achieve more.

How can I be sure my contribution is well managed and well spent?

One area that differentiates United Way is our commitment to accountability and validation of our partner agencies through a rigorous vetting process. Results Based Accountability (RBA) changes the model from funding non-profits that do good work to measuring results of programs and services. Knowledgeable, well-trained volunteers and experts from across our community carefully screen and select the programs funded by your United Way contribution. The recommendations for funding are then reviewed and approved by our volunteer Board of Directors. This citizen review process is United Way’s assurance that contributions are being responsibly managed and monitored. UWGLV distributes, as part of its annual report, a condensed version of its financials each year and welcomes questions and comments from donors and the general public regarding any aspect of our fund raising, investment process or management.

Where does the money go?

In the new investment plan, 112 programs are being funded at 61 partner agencies (non-profits in the Lehigh Valley). The strongest focus remains on education with 80% of investments, a slight increase over previous cycles, healthy aging receiving 12% and food access 8% of available funds. Emergency services has a set funded level to assure those vital services are available to the community. Complete listing of UWGLV investments.

What financial safeguards/checks and balances are in place at United Way?

UWGLV is committed to the highest standards of accountability and transparency in our stewardship of investor dollars. By utilizing interdependent internal processes and controls, any irregularities and questionable activities are prevented. As a matter of practice, no single staff member is able to process any transaction from start to finish and all checks must be signed by two authorized signers. An independent accounting firm audits UWGLV once a year. The Finance Committee and Board of Directors review financial statements quarterly to ensure adherence to budget. The Audit Committee and the Board of Directors must review and approve the annual audit. Donor information is never sold or shared.

Why should I give to United Way and not directly to an agency of my choice?

No other single organization has the scope, expertise, or influence to bring hundreds of human service agencies, government, education partners, and dedicated volunteers together around a common vision of achieving long lasting results for a stronger, healthier Lehigh Valley. When you give to a specific charity, you support a cause. When you give to UWGLV, your gift becomes part of a collective effort to strengthen our entire community. Your gift to United Way allows you to accomplish more than you can alone or through a single charity. Learn more about how we do.

Why isn't my favorite non-profit funded by United Way?

In some cases, an agency may be doing great work, but it may not have programs that align with United Way’s identified community impact goals for education, healthy aging and food access. In other cases, the agency may not meet United Way’s rigorous criteria for performance and accountability. Even though UWGLV raised more money last year, there were nearly double the requests for funding than available funds. United Way made some tough decisions with their carefully chosen investments. In the current investment cycle, UWGLV is funding more agencies – 61 partner agencies as compared to 47 partner agencies in the last investment cycle. If you want to see proven programs available for more people who need them, give generously through United Way.

What are United Way's overhead and administrative costs?

UWGLV strives to be cost efficient and maximize the dollars invested into our community. Good management practices, a high level of volunteer participation and leadership, and in-kind services donated by local organizations and corporations combined with United Way’s tradition of value and efficiency in raising resources, means more of each dollar donated goes directly to helping those in need. Our United Way overhead rate (often referred to as “administrative costs” or “supportive services”) of 19% remains extremely competitive with the top 100 nonprofits in the U.S., and is well below industry standards and recommendations (such as the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance at 35% and the Office of Personnel Management/OPM at 25%). This means that 86 cents of every dollar you invest goes directly to our community initiatives. Moreover, United Way support helps other local non-profits maintain low overhead rates.

How does United Way pay for its events?

Annual events, such as Day of Caring, boost morale and create a synergy among volunteers. Nearly all the costs for these events are paid through ticket prices or generous corporate sponsorship. United Way’s corporate partners help to offset many operational costs such as campaign materials, events and administrative costs.

Is my gift tax-deductible?

Yes, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley is a federally registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. Donations to United Way are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by an individual’s or corporation’s circumstances.

How can I help if I have fewer resources to give a financial gift?

There are three ways to contribute through your United Way. You can give. You can advocate. You can volunteer. Or you can do a combination of all three! Whether it’s reading to children, leading financial literacy classes for hard-working families, or delivering meals to homebound seniors, there are hundreds of volunteer options available every day. Call your United Way at 610.758.8010 for opportunities to get involved and make a difference.

When does payroll deduction start?

Payroll deduction usually runs from January 1 through December 31. Some companies use their fiscal year as their schedule for payroll deduction. United Way does not set your payroll schedule; it is a company decision.

Will the money I give to United Way go outside the community?

No. The money raised in the Lehigh Valley stays in the Lehigh Valley, unless you, as the donor, request that it be sent to another United Way. Your local United Way does pay annual dues to United Way Worldwide, the trade association for United Ways, and also to United Way of Pennsylvania, the state trade association. Those dues (which amount to less than one cent of every dollar given) represent the only money that leaves the Lehigh Valley – and those dollars eventually are returned to the community in services received. Learn more about our investments.

Does United Way Worldwide set policies for our local United Way?

No. United Way Worldwide has no input on how a local United Way invests contributions in its community. Every decision at your United Way is made locally for the benefit of our community. UWGLV is governed by its Board of Directors, comprised of local business and community leaders, and assisted by more than 400 volunteers from the local community that serve on United Way committees. United Way Worldwide is the leadership and support organization for the network of nearly 1,800 community-based United Ways in 45 countries and territories. It provides support through guidance, training, development services, research and national advertising. In exchange for these services, UWGLV pays annual membership dues.

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