United Way of Dane County often receives questions from the public about our organization’s practices, policies and process. Please see the list of frequently asked questions below to learn more:

How do Madison Community Foundation and United Way of Dane County work together?

Madison Community Foundation and United Way of Dane County have worked together on this document to explain our partnership and our points of difference.

Where does the money go?

  1. 86% – programs and services
    • United Way engages our community to understand the most important local issues then facilitates community-built plans to tackle these issues at their root.
    • Focusing on education, financial stability and health – the building blocks of a stable life – we convene experts to understand the scope and scale of local issues, research best practices, and tackle specific strategies to achieve articulated goals.
    • Nonprofits apply for program investment aligned with these strategies. Teams of volunteers review proposals, make site visits, and recommend investments.
    • Once approved by volunteers, investment is contracted by program to nonprofit agencies. These funds fuel the day-to-day systems and behavior change necessary to support families from crisis to stability.
    • We monitor investments, support program execution, make connections across agencies and sectors for greater impact and evaluate results, reporting regularly to the Board of Directors, donors and community.
  2. 14% – administration and fundraising
    • Professional staff monitor and evaluate financial effectiveness including reporting and receipting, secure tech systems and a healthy work environment. Volunteer committees provide oversight to all staff functions.
    • Community outreach to 1,000 Dane County businesses and 300,000 Dane County residents, providing employee engagement, community issues education and experiential learning; and facilitating giving, advocating and volunteering to strengthen our community.
    • Organizational competence in providing donor services such as electronic pledging and volunteerism reporting, innovative and effective partnerships stewarding designations and major gifts support for individuals, families and corporations, and securing grants for the benefit of our local community.

I don’t give to United Way because of high overhead/they keep all the money.

  1. United Way financial oversight is led by a volunteer Finance and Audit committee and the Board of Directors, comprised of esteemed community leaders.
  2. Accountability and transparency are core values of United Way, and critical to the trust United Way stewards in the community.
  3. 86% of all dollars raised are for programs and services, and 14% go to running an effective organization that engages tens of thousands of people across Dane County.
  4. Charity Navigator rates United Way of Dane County with 4 stars in 2018, which places us in the top 3% of rated charities in the U.S. for the 8th year in a row.
  5. All financials are public and available on the website, and United Way staff and volunteers are available to answer any questions.

Why wouldn’t I give directly to an agency and not through a “middle man”?

  1. It’s your money, you need to give where you feel most comfortable.
  2. United Way works with business and donors to effectively address the root causes of our community’s most difficult issues. United Way’s competencies are data, convening, engagement and results.
  3. Most non-profits are have expertise in a core issue like youth services or older adult support. United Way works with multiple nonprofits across many issues to maximize impact for the whole community.
  4. For example,
    • United Way works with multiple housing agencies to ensure “no wrong door” for families in crisis. United Way has convened literacy, GED prep and job skills agencies for more seamless support for unemployed individuals. We monitor and evaluate outcomes and support course corrections when needed.
    • United Way has championed systems-wide assessments, such as an early childhood screening now used across all local health systems to identify and refer babies with developmental delays, and mental health screenings in partnership with local school districts to increase academic performance; both of these get at early interventions which are much more cost effective than later remediation.
    • United Way forges connections to accelerate change; creating housing inventory with landlords and developers, reducing falls for older adults with local pharmacists or working with local businesses to build a workforce pipeline.
    • United Way houses the most comprehensive community database of local health and human service resources. Our 2-1-1 call center and VolunteerYourTime.org provide effective access to community members who want to give or get help.
    • By working with holistically with agencies across our community, United Way can help to deliver cost effective, cohesive results across Dane County.
  5. United way looks at our community through data and lived experiences. We bring together tens of thousands of local volunteers and donors to maximize returns on philanthropic investment. Through these connections, United Way directly funds effective strategies that change systems and lives and indirectly influences other funding sources creating shared understanding and amplified impact.
  6. For donors interested in a comprehensive view of our community and accountability for measurable results, United Way is a good choice.