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.

United Way of Dane County mobilizes the caring power of our community to close gaps and open opportunities so all can thrive. From advancing health and education to strengthening livelihoods and local resilience, we connect people to possibility.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we’re able to support 106 local programs and 53 local nonprofit agencies that we’re working to address the greatest needs in youth opportunity, financial security, healthy community and community resiliency – and another 550+ 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:

  • 73% saw improved parent-child interaction and/or parenting knowledge (270 families with children aged 0-5)
  • 89% of elementary and middle school students saw improved academic performance (347 students)
  • 320 people gained new or better employment at $18+/hour
  • 91% of participants reported improved health outcomes in programs to increase culturally relevant, reflective and safe wellness models (595 individuals)

This is just some of the impact that our community’s generosity made possible. To learn more, see our Annual Report.

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 14 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 14 consecutive 4-start ratings! So you can be confident that your dollars donated to us are well spent.

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 hundreds of local nonprofits, businesses, community leaders, volunteers, donors and families, we’re addressing big-picture issues that no one person or organization can solve alone.

But when it comes to making a gift, 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 youth opportunity, health community or financial security) 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 thrive. That is The Power of Many. Working for All.

To see a list of our nonprofit partners that are working to address Dane County’s greatest needs and advance family well-being, click here.

To see a list of our nonprofit partners that are working to address Dane County’s greatest needs and advance family well-being, click here.

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

United Way has taken as 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, nonprofits, businesses, philanthropic partners and policymakers – and we recognize Wisconsin ranks among the worst states in the country for racial inequity. 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 commitment to IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access), click here.

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

To learn about our strategic priorities, click here.