Frequently Asked Questions

United Way FAQs

Who is United Way?

United Way of Washington County, MD is a locally owned, locally operated, volunteer-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting quality health and human service programs that make our community a stronger, better place. United Way partners and collaborates with local agencies, organizations, civic groups and local government to find lasting solutions to the highest priority problems in our community. United Way is committed to supporting programs and initiatives that help meet basic needs and provide access to a meaningful Education, Income and good Health for every Washington County resident. 

United Way of Washington County is a volunteer-led local, human service charitable organization with a focus on Community Impact and Advancing the Common Good. We focus on Education, Income, and Health because these are the building blocks of a good quality of life and the pathway to opportunity. Changing situations will lead to improvement of our community's quality of life. No single nonprofit alone can effectively improve our community - United Way works across the county to leverage resources, businesses, experts and other service providers to advance the common good. The essence of a prepared workforce and stable economy rests on our collective success in the areas of education, income and health.

Who runs United Way? Does it belong to any other company or agency?

Your United Way is governed by a local Board of Directors comprised of individuals who live and/or work right here in Washington County. They all serve as volunteers without any compensation. United Way is local, independent and autonomous. United Way is managed locally and not by a parent or national organization.

Who serves on the Board of Directors?

The Board of Directors is composed entirely of volunteers. Community leaders and business people - entrepreneurs, bankers, insurance and investment professionals, retirees, and employees of local government, media and academic institutions - donate their time and resources to the United Way in the effort to build a stronger, healthier and more sustainable community.

What is the United Way Campaign?

United Way runs an annual workplace giving campaign in which donors make a monetary gift to the United Way of Washington County, MD to be granted to local nonprofit agencies in response to the community's most urgent social needs through Community Impact grants and investments. Donors also have an option to designate a portion or all of their contribution to any nonprofit of their choice.

What makes United Way different?

United Way is a leader and catalyst for change. In Washington County, United Way looks for dynamic ways to respond to problems that no single agency, donor, volunteer, or sector of the community can do alone. Community volunteers determine how United Way contributions are invested into the community to make the biggest difference possible and address the highest priority needs. A gift to United Way Community Impact Fund will support a network of programs that address the highest priority needs in Washington County, MD. 

Why should I donate?

Your donation is a personal investment in our community, enabling the United Way to address the underlying causes of our community's most critical issues – among them quality child care, preparing kids for graduation, and health-related issues. Through United Way, your dollars will be leveraged to effectively address long-term and short-term community needs. Gifts to United Way continue to help people every day in Washington County.

How are funding decisions made?

Each year, funding decisions are made through an extensive Community Investment process led by volunteers. Local health and human services agencies engage in a competitive grant process and submit funding requests annually that fall within our key focus areas of Education, Income and Health. After volunteer-led committees review requests and compare requests with community needs, recommendations are made to the Board of Directors. Upon approval, dollars are distributed as annual grants for specific programs within agencies that address the most pressing needs in our community.

Contributing directly to United Way of Washington County, MD as opposed to designating to an individual charity truly increases your power to create change. Through the Community Impact and Investments process, funding decisions are made after an extensive volunteer-led review. Local nonprofit health and human service agencies participate in a competitive grant process and submit program specific funding requests. Volunteers review all funding requests, the program itself, collaborations, budget requirements and more; then they look at community needs and specific projects identified by the Board of Directors, such as Summer Learning Loss initiative.

Volunteers spend time analyzing each program in order to make the best decision on funding. The entire process includes many man-hours that would not be possible without a strong commitment to Community Impact from our community.  Agencies receiving funding through the Community Impact process meet strict standards of accountability and are required to report quarterly on the efficiency of their programs and how they are meeting their goals.

United Way partners must meet strict standards of accountability in order to be considered for funding and are required to report quarterly on the efficiency of their programs. Donors are provided updates on these grant funded programs to show ROI including results, outcomes and impact. 

Individual donors also make the funding decision when they choose to restrict or direct their gift. Donor directed gifts are honored; however there is limited agency review.

Where does the money go once United Way receives it?

Unless designated by the donor, money raised locally in Washington County stays in the county to benefit this community. United Way is focused on addressing issues found in three areas: education, income (or financial stability) and health. 

How does United Way determine how much money agencies receive?

United Way of Washington County gives back to local agencies through Community Impact Grant Funding. Grant funding for eligible organizations’ programs that must focus in at least one of the following areas: Education, Income and Health. Additionally, the recipient organization(s) must work in partnership to achieve measurable, community-level changes in those areas. Grant requests are reviewed by volunteers. This meticulous process ensures that your donation is being used responsibly and efficiently to address the most urgent needs each year in the community. 

Why not give directly to an agency?

Your United Way helps support a network of local health and human service programs that address community needs in a cooperative and collaborative manner. United Way raises funds for area programs that focus on improving the quality of life in Washington County, MD and address critical needs in Education, Income, and Health. United Way's fundraising efforts allow area agencies to focus more time on their primary purpose: helping people.

A gift to United Way is leveraged to its full potential to address the most pressing needs in our community and to support the most effective and efficient solutions to community problems. Some individuals do prefer to give directly to a particular agency. Donors are encouraged to review their choices carefully to ensure they are truly making the investment they intend.  The Community Impact and Investment process is a very good choice for most donors.

Can I designate my gift to another nonprofit agency?

United Way honors donor designations. If you choose to designate a pledge, please consider making an additional gift to United Way’s Community Impact Fund. The Community Impact Fund provides measurable outcomes that relate directly to the three focus areas of Education, Income and Health. A gift to United Way supports a network of local health and human service programs in Washington County, looking for the most effective solutions to community problems. It is important to note that if a donor chooses to designate their gift, United Way has no control over how designated funds are used by the agency. 

United Way raises funds for local programs that focus on problems we all are facing. And our combined fundraising efforts allow area agencies to focus more time on their primary purpose: helping people.  A gift to United Way is leveraged to its full potential to address the most pressing needs in our community and to support the most effective and efficient solutions to community problems. 

What are my donation options when I participate in my company’s United Way Campaign?

When you participate in your workplace giving campaign, you can choose to make a donation:

  • through a payroll deduction
  • by cash or check as a one-time amount
  • using any major credit card. 

How does the payroll deduction work?

When you choose to make your United Way donation through a payroll deduction, you give permission for a set amount that you determined by completing the pledge form to be taken out of your paycheck each pay period. You will make your own decision about the amount you give based on your particular financial situation and the significance you place on supporting your community. For many people, $3, $5, $10, or $20 deducted from each paycheck is not noticed. Even the equivalent of one hour’s pay per month is a generous and affordable gift and can make a significant impact in improving our community.

What if I can’t afford to give very much?

Every person’s donation makes an impact, and when combined with others can add up to a life changing difference for someone in need. A little bit goes a long way for the programs supported and helps them focus on providing much needed services. If you wish to give of other resources, including your time and talents, you have many options. United Way is always looking for qualified volunteers to help with campaign and the investment process, special events, and office support, as well as for our annual Day of Caring. For volunteer opportunities, please contact us or visit our website and submit a volunteer form.

What is United Way of Washington County, MD overhead?     

United Way of Washington County, MD is committed to driving down administrative, marketing and fundraising expenses. United Way currently has a 20.6% overhead rate, which is administrative, marketing and fundraising costs as a percentage of total income received for FY 2013. This compares favorably with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance guidelines, which suggest nonprofit overhead should be 35 percent or less. In performing marketing, fundraising, customer service and donor accounting on behalf of other nonprofit organizations, United Way is in a unique position to absorb these overhead-related expenses on their behalf.

What is our local United Way's relationship with United Way Worldwide?

Your local United Way is separate and independent of UWW, our member association.  Each year, UWW provides valuable support and educational opportunities to all United Ways. Our membership is 1% of our overall budget which is outweighed by the key services received and the support provided by UWW.

I gave through the United Way campaign and designated to another United Way/partner agency. Why did I receive a letter from United Way of Washington County, MD?

You receive a 'tax letter' from United Way of Washington County because your campaign is coordinated through us. We encourage agencies to acknowledge gifts made through the UW campaign, however not all will do so. Your gift went exactly where you directed it and can be verified by calling the agency you designated.

Who benefits from my gift?

EVERYONE. Your neighbors, co-workers, even your own family may have used United Way funded services. Emergency food, shelter and other programs are just the beginning. There are countless examples of people touched by United Way that add up to creating a healthy, vibrant, caring community that supports individuals, businesses and social and civic organizations.  Last year more than 21,000 individuals were impacted by United Way gifts to the Community Impact Fund.

How can I make a difference?

LIVE UNITED each and every day. Give 100%. Do something! Do anything to make a difference! A gift to the Community Impact Fund does make a targeted difference to those who need it most, but so does giving of your time and talents. There are many opportunities within our local community to get involved through volunteering, advocacy and education. Explore our website to find out more or email us at with any questions.

What if I work for an organization that participates in the CFC or Maryland State Charity Campaign?

You can still direct your gift to United Way Washington County. Please select one of the following campaign codes when you make your annual gift. 


# 88116

The mission of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is to support and to promote philanthropy through a program that is employee-focused, cost efficient and effective in providing all Federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all. 


Maryland State Charitable Campaign

# 9220

The Maryland Charity Campaign allows Maryland State Employees and Retirees to give to over 700 participating charitable organizations. The participating charities serve the citizens of Maryland and people of other countries in a variety of ways. 







Your team is here to help. Please contact us if your question is not answered here, 301-739-8200.

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