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What does United Way do?

United Way is creating a stronger community where everyone has access to the building blocks for a good quality of life: Education, Income, Health and Housing. By investing in Orange County’s children, families and individuals, we help them meet their most basic human needs, including food, shelter and medical care, while at the same time creating pathways to self-sufficient futures through education and training. In short, we help people help themselves.

What are the most critical issues in Orange County?

  • More than 2,000 Orange County students drop out of high school each year
  • One in four residents are living below the poverty level
  • One-third of our children are overweight or obese
  • 27,000 children and families are homeless or housing insecure

Does United Way have a plan to address these issues?

Yes! Through a 10-year community-wide plan called “FACE 2024” (an acronym for Fund,  Advocate, Collaborate, Educate), United Way is mobilizing local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals to make a long-term measurable difference in the lives of local individuals and families.

How does United Way deliver its mission?

Through a locally driven, collaborative approach – one that engages and mobilizes local business, non-profit and government leaders and strategically focuses our collective resources on tackling the interconnected root causes – the most effective way to create lasting change.

How can my company or family participate?

There are three specific ways to join the Live United movement: Give, Advocate or Volunteer:

Give: You can participate in a workplace campaign, sponsor an event or make a monthly or one time contribution. Never underestimate what your investment can accomplish when it is combined with the investments of others on the same issue.

Advocate. Lend your voice to an issue by advocating for policy change and changing minds.

Volunteer. Put your time and talent into creating immediate and positive change.

What are the advantages of supporting Orange County United Way?

A gift to Orange County United Way is the most powerful option for investing in your community. United Way leverages our donors’ dollars by focusing them on the building blocks of a good life – Education, Income, Health and Housing – to change the lives of those who need your help most. Specific ways that United Way maximizes the impact of every dollar contributed include:

  • Comprehensive research into critical community needs
  • Measurable return on investment
  • Convening partners that represent the business, non-profit and government sectors and mobilizing them to help solve the most critical needs of local families
  • Better accountability and volunteer oversight, assuring that United Way partner   agencies adhere to sound fiscal policies and provide quality services

What if my employer or a colleague pressures me to give to United Way?

We believe that giving is a personal choice. Exerting pressure or coercion to give to United Way is in direct opposition to our philosophy of giving, which is based on donors making informed personal decisions based on the “case for giving” representing the local children, families, and individuals who stand to benefit from your personal support. We encourage you to learn more about our work before you make a commitment. One of the best ways to acquaint you with our work is through volunteer engagement. The more you know about United Way, the more likely you are to connect to our cause by investing in our work.

Are there tax advantages to contributing to Orange County United Way?

Yes, contributions to Orange County United Way, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations qualify as an eligible contribution for tax purposes. Consult your tax advisor for more detailed information and assistance.

I don’t wish to help those who won’t help themselves.

Most of the clients served by our programs truly want to help themselves but are unable to for a variety of reasons. Low-wage workers, families with children, veterans and seniors often to do have enough to meet basic needs. When we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all. We all win when a child has a head start on quality education that leads to success in future jobs, when individuals have enough income to support a family through retirement, and when we all enjoy good health and stable housing.

I heard about someone who didn't get help when they needed it.

Orange County United Way funded programs can’t always provide the help requested at any particular time. But we will do everything we can to help people in need identify the community resources that do exist. Services like 2-1-1 Orange County, one of our community partners, offers a free information and referral line that helps connect people to available and appropriate services. Please refer people in need to this resource by simply picking up the phone and dialing “211.”

Do some of Orange County United Way’s dollars go to United Way Worldwide?

As a proud member of an international network in 1,800 communities around the world in 40 countries or territories, we pay member dues of less than 1% of our operating budget. In return, we benefit from receiving national advertising, research, access to best practices, advocacy efforts, government relations, and continuing education. While a member of United Way Worldwide, Orange County United Way is a totally autonomous agency, governed by local volunteers who understand the needs of Orange County residents and the vast resources available to meet those needs.

Can I make an additional gift to United Way for another agency?

Yes. You may make an additional gift to any 501 (c)(3) organization.

Who oversees the operations and finances of Orange County United Way?

Orange County United Way is governed by a local volunteer board of directors whose members are respected community and business leaders. The financial operations are audited by an independent accounting firm and carefully reviewed by volunteers who serve on the Orange County United Way Finance Committee and Board of Directors. We conform with guidelines set forth by United Way Worldwide, but all policy and funding decisions are made locally. The community volunteers who lead United Way reflect our community’s diversity and represent a wealth of professions. A highly skilled professional staff works closely with these volunteers handling United Way’s daily operations.

What are United Way’s overhead costs?

Our overhead rate is 17%, and supports operating and fundraising expenses as well as training, compliance, infrastructure, staffing and systems support to ensure sustainability. Overhead includes important investment to improve our work as well as efforts to raise money so we have adequate funding to meet the critical needs of our community. Overhead is not a measure of a charity’s performance but it does play a role in ensuring our accountability.

How do I know United Way partner agencies will use the funds responsibly?

Volunteer and staff oversight ensures that Orange County United Way partner agencies adhere to sound fiscal policies and provide quality services with measurable results. As part of our program funding agreement with any agency, the agency reports back to us on its results at least every six months.

Does United Way support religious agencies?

In order to support initiatives, partner agencies may include faith-based organizations whose programs are consistent with our goals. All funded organizations must be classified under Section 501(c)(3) or (4) of the Internal Revenue Code and Patriot Act compliant.

Can you tell me about agency allocations?

At Orange County United Way, we’re committed to investing your donation in programs that are meeting the most pressing needs in our community. With the exception of targeted grants that address gaps in the community safety net, all United Way partnerships and granting decisions are aligned with the goals set forth in FACE 2024. However, if you wish to designate your gift to a particular agency, you are welcome to do so. Orange County United Way will honor that pledge and ensure your money is directed to the agency of your choice.

I heard an agency is no longer being funded. What happened?

United Way partnerships and granting decisions are aligned with the goals set forth in the 10-year FACE 2024 community-wide action plan focusing on bridging gaps in Education, Income, Health and Housing. Partners are those that can best demonstrate how they will help meet specific FACE 2024 goals.

How can I volunteer with Orange County United Way?

Please visit http://www.getconnected.unitedwayoc.org for information on ways to volunteer with United Way and our partner agencies. It’s an excellent way for you to get connected to what we are doing in our community.

If I volunteer, should I give?

Absolutely! Volunteers have the chance to witness the true needs that our work is meeting. Giving takes a number of different forms: time, talent, and monetary contributions or treasure. Many of our partner agencies could not exist if it were not for the hundreds of volunteer hours given each year.

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