Frequently-Asked Questions

What is United Way of Greater Cleveland?

United Way of Greater Cleveland is a local, independent nonprofit organization and the largest private-sector funder of health and human services in our community. United Way advances education, financial stability, health and basic needs in our community by mobilizing community members to give, advocate and volunteer.

What does United Way do besides raise and allocate funds?

No other organization is better equipped to lead our community toward a better future for all. For 104 years, United Way of Greater Cleveland has been dedicated to improving lives. In addition to strategically investing in programs to serve those in need, United Way is keeping a watchful eye on the needs of our community. We ensure that the basic needs of our fellow citizens are met, that everyone has access to food, shelter, transportation and medication. Education is one of the most effective ways to address poverty and United Way is investing in programs to help ensure our youth succeed in school. United Way also invests in families to help them achieve and maintain financial stability. And United Way is committed to helping our community access the resources for good health. United Way is dedicated to:

  • Effective Impact Strategies: United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 90 Community Impact volunteers make investment decisions grounded in research and aligned with the health and human service needs in our community. The impact strategies are concentrated in education, financial stability, health and basic needs and are designed to create a better future for all.
  • Linkages to Community Resources: United Way 2-1-1, a free information and referral line, helps people in need find health and human service assistance, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
  • Community Problem Solving: United Way serves as a focal point for a system of services to meet human care needs. United Way volunteers work as catalysts to pull key parties together from other human care organizations, foundations and the government to spearhead efforts to address critical problems ranging from helping kids graduate to caring for the elderly.

Who runs United Way?

  • Volunteers provide oversight to all aspects of United Way’s operations, including human resources, finance, strategic planning, marketing, fundraising and fund distribution.
  • More than 90 volunteers serve on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee.
  • Hundreds of volunteers — local people from all walks of life who serve without pay — raise and distribute United Way funds.
  • Volunteers serve on the boards of United Way’s partner and funded agencies.
  • United Way staff members provide support to volunteers in carrying out policies and helping to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Who is helped by my United Way contribution?

Money raised locally stays in our community. Each year, funds from the annual United Way campaign support health and human service programs to meet the needs of more than 450,000 Greater Clevelanders.

What is United Way Worldwide?

United Way Worldwide (UWW), based in Alexandria, Virginia, is the national membership organization for nearly 1,300 independent local United Way organizations across the country. Each United Way is autonomous, governed by its own local board of directors. Our United Way is a member of the national organization, and we can access national research, advertising, training and many other services essential to our operation.

How much of my contribution actually goes to people who need help?

Because of United Way’s volunteer involvement, the greatest part of your dollar possible, nearly 85%, goes to advance our priority impact areas — education, financial stability, health and basic needs — in our community. With current operating costs at 15.7 percent, contributors to the Cleveland-area United Way can take pride in the fact that our total administrative costs continue to be much lower than the national United Way average and far less than many charities.

Who decides how my contribution is spent?

Community volunteers make these decisions through the fund distribution process designed to impact basic needs, education, financial stability and health. Approximately 90 volunteers are involved in this process, including issue experts. This citizen review process was the first of its kind when developed in Cleveland in 1913.

The volunteers are organized into Impact Committees. Approximately every three years, proposals submitted by community agencies are assigned to Community Impact Committees for review. Committee members then embark on a review of agency programs to decide which programs to fund to ultimately achieve our aspirations for a better community.

How are United Way partner and funded agencies accountable to United Way contributors?
Each agency must…

  • provide quality services;
  • have its own volunteer board of directors;
  • submit a certified audit annually;
  • provide its budget and program information for the annual volunteer Citizen Review process by fund distribution volunteers.