United Way of the Wine Country has been dedicated to improving lives locally for 50 years. Everyone deserves a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job, income that can support a family through retirement, and good health. To create lasting change, United Way focuses on solving the underlying causes of common problems related to education, income and health. We are committed to achieving lasting solutions - not just quick fixes - for our entire community.
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 a 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, financial stability, and health, and a campaign that that distributes over $1 million 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 related to education, financial stability, and health. We address these important issues through our United Way Community Impact 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?
United Way of the Wine Country fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. Every dollar we receive supports our cause.
According to our most recent IRS assessment, approximately 75 cents of every dollar received by United Way of the United Country is invested directly in the programs we provide throughout our five-county region through dozens of strategic partnerships that serve more than 6,000 children and families annually. These programs help strengthen our community by preparing young children for school and providing early literacy support, helping families to make ends meet, and providing access to information and healthcare and to resources that improve cardiovascular well-being. Together, these investments ensure healthier beginnings and healthier lives.
United Way of the Wine Country’s investment in administrative support helps our organization to retain highly qualified and motivated staff, ensure financial accountability, engage strategic partners and donors, and cover facility expenses. Each year, we evaluate our work. We employ performance management systems that help us determine the impact of our program investments so that we can both expand what works and redefine or eliminate what doesn’t, and we engage an independent auditor to assess our financial records and systems to ensure we are the best possible stewards of every dollar we receive.
Does United Way charge an administrative/processing fee if I designate to a nonprofit agency?
The Board of Directors of United Way of the Wine Country (UWWC) voted to eliminate the administrative fee assessed on donor designated gifts to other nonprofits. The elimination of the administrative fee means 100% of every gift made through UWWC will be invested in our community. This policy change will be applied to all donor designated gifts made during the 2018/2019 annual campaign and campaigns thereafter. To maximize the community impact of all donor designated gifts, the UWWC Board approved a policy to direct 90% of every donor designated gift to the donor’s nonprofit charity of choice and 10% of the donor's designated gift to initiatives supported by United Way of the Wine Country's Community Impact Fund. Gifts to UWWC's Community Impact Fund will help United Way and its agency partners achieve the following goals:
1. Education – Over 600 volunteers reach over 5,000 TK-3rd graders annually who struggle to read at grade level to increase their school readiness and literacy skills.
2. Financial Stability – Over 200 volunteers assist over 6,000 families to file their tax returns at no cost to improve family income and help these working families make ends meet.
3. Health – Through strategic regional and national partnership, we help low-income and working families have greater access to prescription medications, healthcare and wellness information and resources, and improve their cardiovascular health.
When does United Way send my designated gift to my nonprofit agency of choice?
United Way pays the designated agency after the donor’s pledge payment is received by United Way. For payroll deduction pledges, United Way receives an incremental payout of your gift via your Payroll Department. Therefore, your payroll deduction pledge made in 2018 would not begin being deducted from your payroll until the first payroll period in 2019. For an annual payroll gift, your gift is fulfilled with the final payroll deduction in 2019. United Way distributes nonprofit designation payments on a quarterly basis (i.e. July, October, January, & April).