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What is the United Way?

In communities across America, 1350 United Ways improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of their communities. More than fundraisers, United Ways are partners in change, working with a broad range of people and organizations to identify and resolve pressing community issues. United Ways have led the nonprofit sector in the call for transparent accountability and measurable results.

United Way of Lane County is independent, run by a local board of directors, and responds to specific local needs.

To achieve measurable, lasting change, United Way of Lane County, like other United Ways, identifies and builds on community strengths and assets, helps individuals and groups with specific community interests find ways to contribute their time and talents, support direct-service programs and community-change efforts.

All of this is done in collaboration with diverse partners. United Way of Lane County  works with schools, government agencies, businesses, organized labor, financial institutions, community development corporations, voluntary and neighborhood associations, the faith community, and others.

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Who is helped by United Way contributions?

Donations to United Way of Lane County's LIVE UNITED Fund support:

  • 61 programs through 44 community service agencies that target existing and emerging community needs throughout Lane County, Oregon.
  • Innovative initiatives that focus on root causes of specific community problems such as limited access to healthcare and financial instability.
  • Expanding access to healthcare, improving the financial stability of working families, and helping children enter school ready to learn.

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What makes United Way different from other charities?

Many charities focus on a single cause or area of concern. United Way of Lane County tackles priority issues for the entire community by bringing together the best local expertise and resources.

By targeting specific goals under the action areas of EDUCATION, INCOME and HEALTH, United Way is able to forge partnerships, focus resources and unite the community to tackle the root causes of problems. This is known as the community impact model. Community impact is measured by specific improvements in identified community conditions rather than individual agency "head counts."

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Where does my contribution go?

With every dollar you give or pledge, you make change. The return on investment for your gift is that thousands of people in Lane County benefit from one or more of the services provided by our 44-agency, countywide network or agencies.

Our three action areas focus your donations on the building blocks for a good life - EDUCATION, INCOME and HEALTH.  At this time your donation is working specifically to:

  • make sure that Lane County children enter kindergarten with age-appropriate literacy and social/emotional development so they can reach their greatest potential;
  • assist  low-wage households in gaining enough financial stability to stay out of economic crises, and;
  • guarantee that people without health insurance are enrolled in existing health insurance programs and/or be connected to a local system of timely, affordable health care.

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Who decides how the money raised is used?

Hundreds of volunteers from the business, labor, government and community sectors carefully review proposals received during each funding cycle known as the Community Investment Process.  All-volunteer Community Investment Panels use a scored set of criteria to determine the ability of a proposed project to address the identified goals under our three action areas of EDUCATION, INCOME and HEALTH - the building blocks for a good life.

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Isn’t United Way just a fundraising organization?

No. While raising money is essential to solving community problems, United Way of Lane County is so much more. For example, United Way:

  • Works closely with service providers, government, the business community and others to identify and address pressing community problems.
  • Recruits and trains thousands of volunteers for nonprofit agencies and provides volunteer resources in management, technical assistance, training and board leadership.
  • Is respected by community leaders who look to United Way for important research about the health of our region and the quality of life for everyone.
  • Invests in the building blocks for a good life which are education, income and health.
  • Tightly focuses its efforts to solve critical community issues with measurable outcomes.

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Why does giving to United Way have more impact than giving directly to a single charity?

United Way is the most efficient, effective and accountable way to make a positive difference in the lives of people who live in this region. We bring together hundreds of volunteers who have a wide range of ideas and experience to lend. They hold all our funded agencies to the highest standards, measure the impact of each funded program, and make all key funding decisions. It is a completely transparent and proven process that works to help the most people in the most comprehensive ways.

Also, we understand that most people seeking help don’t have just one issue to be concerned about. For example, a senior citizen who needs help paying for prescription medications often also has problems affording a nutritious diet and may struggle with transportation. A young family with two working parents often find themselves in need of affordable housing, parenting support classes, and safe childcare.

Solving one problem is important - seeking solutions for a wide range of problems, and their root causes, is critical.

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Can I restrict part of my gift to any nonprofit charity?

Absolutely. United Way of Lane County honors your request to give to any registered tax-exempt (501-c-3) nonprofit in the United States. Your restricted gift must be at least $100 and will be subject to a 15% support service fee.

Please note that organizations that are not local partners of United Way of Lane County cannot be held to our exemplary standards of excellence and accountability and, of course, we cannot guarantee that your donation will stay in the local community.

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What is the LIVE UNITED Fund and why should I direct my gift to it?

Through the LIVE UNITED Fund, United Way supports an entire network of human services that are chosen for their ability to address proven local problems. (See #4 regarding how United Way volunteers determine how much money will be allocated to individual agencies.)

At the same time, the LIVE UNITED Fund allows United Way to conduct in-depth research and to create initiatives designed to have significant community impact in areas such as child abuse, healthcare, and financial instability.

Only donations to the LIVE UNITED Fund can be directed by our volunteers to address the most current and critical problems. 

It is through the LIVE UNITED Fund that innovative solutions to long-standing issues can be addressed.  It is also the LIVE UNITED Fund that supports our countywide network of basic needs services - shelter, safety, food, health care, and access to services.

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If I do decide to restrict my gift to one agency, does it take away from the money they get from the LIVE UNITED Fund?

No.  The agencies get two separate amounts: the LIVE UNITED Fund dollars allocated to them through our volunteer Community Investment Panels and the money designated to them by individual donors.

LIVE UNITED funds are the only funds our volunteers can direct to where the greatest needs are. In small rural communities it is only because of LIVE UNITED dollars that local service agencies can provide food, shelter, senior transportation, and more to their most vulnerable residents.

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Can any agency apply for LIVE UNITED funds through United Way?

Any 501 (c) 3 human service can apply for funding.  Our next funding cycle will be in 2015.

Each proposal is judged by one of three all-volunteer Community Investment Panels.  Winning proposals are those that aligh with our Goals for 2020 in the action areas of EDUCATION, INCOME and HEALTH and which  offer measurable strategies aimed at achieving those goals.  Evidence-based programs with proven success are more likely to win funding.

For more information contact our director of community impact Elena Fracchia at or by calling 541-741-6000 ext. 101.

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I would like to help, but just can't afford it.

Any amount, even if your gift seems small, will help. It's just as hard, or even harder, for those who need help from one of the many agencies supported by your United Way contributions. A payroll deduction pledge allows you to make a generous contribution in manageable portions each pay day. Join with your neighbors to help create real change in our community.

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How much of my contribution goes to United Way’s operations?

United Way of Lane County’s year-round administrative and campaign costs amount to 15 cents out of every dollar. That makes our overhead costs among the lowest in the nation.  However, the approximate 18% overhead covers more than fundraising for our multiple agencies. It also includes:

  • grant writing and technical assistance for our 44 agency partners
  • community-wide resources like the Parent Helpline, free tax preparation for low-wage households (Tax-Aide), oversight of local FEMA distributions, the HOPE foster girls project, literacy outreach programs, and more. 

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Why give to United Way when government programs support local agencies?

While government dollars, in combination with private dollars, are used to fund certain services in our community, government cutbacks continue to seriously reduce the ability of agencies to provide essential levels of service. As local needs go up in this time of economic uncertainty, United Way support is needed more than ever.

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I doubt if I’ll ever need to use these services, so why should I support them?

It's possible that you might never use United Way funded services, but statistics show that you or a member of your family probably have or will use United Way services at some point. Many of us use United Way services even if we don’t realize it. You may have heard about the FamilyWize discount prescription drug coupons.  These discount coupons can be downloaded from our website or picked up right at the pharmacy.  Accepted at nearly every Lane County pharmacy, FamilyWize coupons have saved local residents over $300,000 on their prescription drugs.

And some of our work may not seem like charity to you. For example, the local economy has been powerfully impacted by United Way efforts to help low- and moderate-wage workers apply for and receive Earned Income Tax Credits and others to which they are entitled.  Last year these Tax-Aide sites brought over $6 million to our economy through credits to local residents.  Such an economic boost helps us all.

While we continue to fund agencies, United Way recognizes the long term value of investing in work that makes ours a place where we want to live and raise our families. A community where our children are nurtured, our seniors are honored, and where everyone is treated with respect.

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What if I would like to give to United Way but I don’t like one of the funded agencies?

United Way of Lane County is empowered by you, the donor.  You can make a donation to the LIVE UNITED Fund and choose to exclude a particular agency from receiving any portion of your gift.

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