United Way Basics

Frequently Asked Questions

What is United Way?
United Way is a local movement of volunteers, advocates, partners, and donors committed to advancing the common good by mobilizing communities around education, financial stability, and health. We are specific about these investment areas as they are the building blocks that everyone needs for a good quality of life, and they are the cornerstones of a strong, prosperous community.  Remove any one building block, and the other two topple.  Build them all up, and there is a strong foundation for individuals, families, businesses and the entire community.  United Ways mobilize a network of cross-sector partners, volunteers, donors, and agencies to address the most pressing challenges in every community in order to improve people’s lives. Together we are ensuring that children and youth succeed, families are strengthening their financial stability and independence, and people are increasing their access to health care, nutrition, and healthy environments. 

How can I get help for someone I know?
You can dial 2-1-1. By dialing 2-1-1 or logging onto 211Texas.org, anyone can be connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week to community resources in their local area. 2-1-1 Texas’ phone line is staffed by certified specialists. This free, confidential, multilingual, and accredited helpline is made possible throughout Texas communities by local United Ways.
How are local United Ways run?
United Way organizations are local and comprehensive.  Community members contribute to the United Way in their area to make an investment in their local community.  Each United Way is a separate 501(c)(3) organization, with a governing board of directors made up of local community members who volunteer their time.  The boards are independent and make all policy and funding decisions for each local United Way.  Your local United Way determines what community challenges to address with United Way resources. Local United Way dollars stay in local communities to address the most critical needs in your community.  By contacting your local United Way directly, you can find out more about their governing documents, volunteer leadership, partners, allocations of resources, and their financial information.
How can I find the local United Way that serves my community?
You can click on the button “Locate a Texas United Way” on our website to search by county, ZIP Code or United Way name. 
How and where can I make a contribution to United Way?
You can join fellow community members and co-workers by making a contribution through each paycheck or by making a one-time contribution to United Way. To contribute, contact your local United Way.
What is the benefit of giving to or volunteering with United Way rather than another nonprofit?
While there are many wonderful charities doing great work across Texas, community challenges are complex, and no single nonprofit organization can address them alone.  Each local United Way determines where they can affect the greatest change and which programs offer the best results in these areas of needs. United Way convenes strategic partners who bring the right strengths to help accelerate and advance community progress in these areas.  
When you donate or volunteer your time with United Way, your investments become part of a collective effort.  In particular, United Way gifts enjoy a powerful multiplier effect, because contributions are pooled with other resources to increase the overall impact.  United Way’s work is results-driven and research-based, ensuring each contribution to your United Way accomplishes more than you can ever do alone or through a single charity.
"In Life..." from United Way of Greater Houston
Why is there a local, state, and national United Way?
Local United Ways are independent, autonomous organizations, owned and operated by local volunteers. Your local United Way determines what community problems it wishes to address with United Way resources. Local United Way dollars stay in local communities to address the most critical needs in that community. The state and national United Ways serve as trade associations that assist and support local United Ways in a number of ways, including the training of staff and volunteers and information sharing about what local United Ways are doing best in their respective communities. Additionally, the state United Way monitors state legislation and advocates on behalf of local United Ways. United Way Worldwide echos these efforts at the federal, national, and internatinoal levels.
How can I become more involved with my local United Way?
Every day, ordinary people are accomplishing extraordinary things by giving, advocating, and volunteering with United Way. Running a United Way workplace campaign is a great way to get more involved through giving, inspire your co-workers to become engaged with United Way, and to make a big impact in your community. 
We know that time is valuable and that you can make a difference in your community by volunteering your time with your local United Way.  Join them for a coordinated Day of Action or Day of Caring, volunteer your time on one of your United Way’s committees, put a team together to work on a one day project, or simply attend a United Way community event.  Get in touch with your local United Way and sign-up for their newsletter to learn more or follow them on social media.
You can also advocate for the causes that matter to you most. Anyone can champion a cause. Whether you're speaking out to improve education, financial stability or health, reaching out to elected officials, or wearing the LIVE UNITED shirt to show your support, you can help inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow. United Ways encourage you to use your voice! Do it in public. Be visible. Be loud.