Frequently Asked Questions

About United Way

What is United Way?

United Way is a worldwide organization of nearly 1,800 community-based United Ways in 41 countries and territories. Each is independent, separately incorporated, and governed by local volunteers. United Ways bring communities together to focus on the most important needs in the community, build partnerships, forge consensus and leverage resources to make a measurable difference. For more information about the national organization, United Way Worldwide, visit

What does this United Way do?

United Way of the Greater Triangle is moving beyond its traditional role of simply being a fundraiser to being a funder, partner, convener, and catalyst for positive, lasting community change within the four counties we serve—Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. Our work with a network of nonprofits, businesses, government and community leaders builds resources, focuses investments, and fosters partnerships to address basic needs and improve early learning, health and well-being, educational success, financial stability, and economic security for vulnerable families and their children.

This two-generational approach supports their needs today and gives them the tools to succeed in the future.


Who runs United Way of the Greater Triangle?

United Way of the Greater Triangle is run by a volunteer board of directors comprised of community leaders, experts and others living and working in the Greater Triangle area (Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake counties), interested in creating community solutions.

How much of each contribution is spent on administrative costs?

86 cents of every dollar pledged goes directly to program services. 14 cents of every dollar funds programs like 2-1-1 and Teaming for Technology (T4T) plus covers administrative and fundraising costs. (The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance sets the maximum recommended rate for overhead costs at nonprofit organizations at 35 percent.)

What role does United Way serve?

United Way provides much more than dollars. It has an overview perspective of the community. Each local United Way identifies community issues, convenes community groups and develops special initiatives. It certifies agencies and holds them accountable for outcomes.  Some have called United Way’s certification the “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval for nonprofit agencies.  And our United Way strategically invests in effective programs, innovative approaches, and collaborative solutions. It supports invaluable services necessary to strengthen the community, including Teaming for Technology (T4T) and 2-1-1.


How can I volunteer?

Thank you for your interest. Donating your time and talents to causes that you care about is as important as donating financially. To find the best match for your interests, click here.

How does United Way handle my money and its finances responsibly?

A certified public accounting firm audits every United Way annually. Results, along with recommendations for improvements, are presented to each local Board of Directors. This group of local community volunteers then enacts and monitors suggested improvements.  These annual audit reports are visible on our website here.

How do I become a United Way Certified Community Impact Partner?

United Way of the Greater Triangle recently shifted investment priorities to support collaborative partnerships implementing a two-generational approach to breaking the cycle of poverty among families within our 4 county service region.

As this collaborative work progresses in 2016 and into 2017, there may be opportunities to address specific gaps in service partners within the collaborations through a selective process and in the spring of 2017, there will be more consideration of open funding opportunities.

Until that time, the best way to keep abreast of United Way’s work and potential partnership opportunities is to complete the interest form below in order to receive our newsletters and any updates that emerge.

Also, currently in order to receive funding from the United Way of the Greater Triangle, partners must meet the Standards of Accountability.  It may be helpful to become familiar with these standards so that your organization can begin putting some of these pieces into place.

Thank you for your interest in partnering with United Way.

What is the relationship of our local United Way to United Way Worldwide?

United Way Worldwide (UWW) provides support services to local, independent United Way organizations across the country. UWW provides advertising, research on national social needs, educational instruction, and strategic planning for methods that local United Ways can use to improve their communities. More than 1,400 local United Ways belong to UWW, contributing 1% of their campaign pledges in return for services provided

How much do those NFL commercials cost United Way?

All NFL representatives appearing in United Way Worldwide ads are volunteers. Players receive no compensation for their services. The NFL also furnishes the airtime at no cost to United Way. The partnership enables the United Way message to reach an estimated 110 million viewers weekly during football season and provides community-service opportunities and recognition for members of the NFL family year-round.


Our New Direction

How and why did you decide to change the direction of your work and funding?

The main driver was a recognition that the relevance of the old United Way model—raising then distributing money—was not the role required in our complex times.  By evolving the role of our United Way to become what the community requires to respond to the issues in our community, we have the opportunity to engage more people, raise awareness of the issues, and activate our cross-sector network of partners to begin to create long-term, sustainable change together.

Many United Ways around the country have moved or are moving in this direction – a collective impact model.  This direction creates focus in order to make the greatest impact where it is most needed.

What is your focus now?

Our work includes collaborative strategies toward building success for children and families together (two-generational approach) we call Changing Generations: Pathways to Progress for Families and Children. Plus meeting basic needs for vulnerable people. There is more detail on each area in the Community Impact section of the web site.

What did you do to prepare organizations for this change?

We began work on developing the new model in the summer of 2013 and we shared a draft of the direction with our agency partners in October 2013. In May 2014, our board of directors approved the new funding direction and more focused approach. Almost immediately thereafter, meetings in all four counties were held May 29 – June 2, 2014 to brief the agency partners on the new model.

None of this was done in a vacuum and we were very intentional along this process to help organizations prepare. In an 18-month period there was a series of meetings to have conversations with our community partners and their board members about our change in direction and to inform them of how funding decisions would be made under our new model. In addition, funding support for agency partners was extended until August 2015 to help them plan for the transition.

What are some examples of Collective Impact working?

In the United Way system, Salt Lake City and Cincinnati are two of the examples farthest along in their collective impact work.

And, there is momentum toward collective impact building across the US. Hundreds of initiatives are using the collective impact approach across a range of issue areas, including several federal programs such as the 2014 Social Innovation Fund and several programs of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Source: The Collective Impact Forum, 2015)

The Collective Impact Forum and The Aspen Institute  are two sources for learning more about the approach, designed to address large-scale social issues.


Donating to United Way

I already give to my place of worship or favorite charitable organization. Why should I give to United Way?

United Way doesn’t want to take contributions away from any other organizations. Giving to United Way has been described as a “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval. Because agency partners must go through a certification process, your gift to United Way supports programs that are fully vetted and certified.

Why should I invest in United Way instead of choosing a specific agency?

United Way of the Greater Triangle makes sure your money goes where it is needed most. We offer donors the opportunity to support the entire community and maximize their giving. By choosing to our Community Impact Fund, you give United Way of the Greater Triangle the power to attack the most pressing needs, based on research, in the region to create lasting changes. Knowing where the most pressing needs is a strength of United Way. Donors who give to United Way know that they are supporting work that will strengthen their entire community. Another advantage of investing in United Way is the assurance that there is diligent monitoring to ensure your dollars are making the greatest impact.

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

No.  We often say United Way is local giving with local impact. The money raised in the Triangle area stays in the Triangle area unless  you, as the donor, request that it be sent to another United Way or a charity outside of our area.



Are my personal details and information secure?

The safety and security of your transaction is a primary concern for United Way. A high-grade encryption is used along with the https security protocol, SSL, to communicate with your browser software. This method is the industry standard security protocol, which makes it extremely difficult for anyone else to intercept the information sent.

If I donate online, will my email address be released to other organizations?

The donation confirmation page allows you to choose if you wish to release your contact information to your recipient organization(s). United Way never trades or sells donor information.