Frequently Asked Questions

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 does my money make a difference?

For 100 years, United Way of Dane County has led in mobilizing the caring power of our community to create lasting, generational change.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we’re able support 112 local programs and 52 local nonprofit agencies that are working to address the greatest needs in education, income, health and 2gen (multigenerational approach) – and another 850 nonprofits through donor choice – so that more families have what they need to thrive. In fact, of local families who participated in United Way funded programming last year:

  • 89% saw improved parent child interaction and/or parenting knowledge (2,043 families with children 0-5)
  • 83% maintained housing and avoided eviction (2,051 individuals)
  • 100% graduated high school in Dane County (198 students)
  • 88% saw improved health outcomes in maternal child health programs (835 individuals)

That is just some of the impact our community’s generosity made possible. To learn more, see our Community Impact Report.

I heard that United Way has higher overhead costs than other nonprofits. Is that true?

Out of all the money United Way raises, 86% goes to organizations and programs tackling the greatest needs in our community and only 14% goes towards administrative costs and fundraising, allowing us to mobilize the caring power of our community. That is a very small percentage – especially considering that the average nonprofit uses 35% of raised funds on overhead expenses!

This small portion of the money raised goes towards maintaining a professional staff that monitors and evaluates financial effectiveness, works to define strategic priorities, engage the community and secure tech systems and a healthy work environment. Volunteer committees provide oversight to all staff functions.

P.S. Did you know that we’ve received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for 11 years straight? This is the highest possible rating and indicates that we adhere to sector best practices and execute our mission in a financially efficient way. Only 2% of charities evaluated have received at least 11 consecutive 4-star ratings! So you can be confident that your dollars donated to us are well spent.

Why not give directly to my nonprofit of choice?

At United Way of Dane County, it is our job to coordinate and amplify your impact, so that you know your money is making the greatest difference it possibly can. Through collaborative work with local nonprofits, businesses, community leaders, volunteers and families, we’re addressing big-picture issues no one person or organization can solve alone.

But when it comes to making a gift, we know it’s your money! And you can choose where it goes – either by selecting a specific nonprofit, choosing a particular area of focus (such as education, income or health) or by entrusting us to invest your dollars strategically.

Ultimately, we know there are a lot of great services and programs in our community. But we’re better together! When you give to United Way, you’re helping to build an ecosystem of nonprofits who work collaboratively in measurable, accountable ways that are responding to the most critical needs and investing in long-term systems change to help our entire community be stronger. That is The Power of Many. Working for All.

Who are United Way’s partner agencies?

To see a list of our nonprofit partner agencies that are working to address Dane County’s greatest needs in the areas of education, income, health and 2gen (multigenerational approach), click here.

To see a full list of nonprofits who received support through last year’s campaign dollars  – both through donor choice and unrestricted giving – click here.

I see that United Way has taken a clear stance to promote equity in Dane County. What does this mean?

For the last 30 years, United Way has taken an intentional approach to naming racial disparity in our community and working to measurably reduce inequity. United Way remains non-partisan – committed to working with our diverse network of community members, nonprofit, business and philanthropic partners and policymakers – and we recognize Wisconsin ranks among the worst states in the country for racial inequity. And we know that to address disparities in our community, it’s critical that investments be made to programs and solutions that best address the root causes.

United way’s definition of equity is when life outcomes can no longer be predicted based on race or ZIP code. Our knowledge and experience in framing issues, mobilizing resources and being accountable for results focuses on systemic change to get more people on pathways toward stability and well-being.

We strive to build a Dane County where all can succeed in school, work and life, and that means centering equity and family well-being in everything we do. When more families – of all races, ethnicities, backgrounds and circumstances – have what they need to succeed, our entire community is better positioned to thrive.

To learn more about our commitment to equity, click here.

To learn more about racial inequity in Dane County, click here.

To learn about our strategic priorities, click here.