Supporting your local United Way

The United Way is a non-profit organization based in Alexandria, Virginia working with local United Way offices throughout the country. These offices work in a coalition of charitable organizations and they pool their efforts to support and fundraise for local causes. Their goal is to meet the needs of local residents by providing information, education and connection to services within the community.

There are many ways to get involved with the United Way. Volunteer opportunities are available, as well as mentoring or tutoring opportunities. Through contributions of time or money to your local United Way, quality programs are put into place, such as participation in developing solutions to neighborhood problems and improving community life. More specifically, a battered woman can find safety, a young child can be taught how to read, a hungry person can be fed, or an elderly person can be allowed access to transportation. There is opportunity to change a life forever.

As a volunteer, you learn new skills and feel good about helping others. You increase your self-confidence while raising community and social awareness within your community. You discover your strengths and talents and you are able to help others do the same while you meet and share your interests with others. You play a big role in creating opportunities for others to succeed. You have the chance to reshape your community or become somebody’s hero. Getting involved with your local United Way is easy and rewarding.

While there are many organizations that address specific causes which are good and valid, only the United Way targets the community as a whole. After surveying communities around the country as to what issues should be addressed, the answers were clear, education, income, health, and safety. Therefore, the United Way goes beyond where other organizations go to educate, inform, and prepare residents so when the need arises, they will know where to turn.

The United Way helps identify issues within the community and resolve them through partnerships with other community entities, such as schools, government offices, local businesses, and the like. However, there are some who argue that there is too much of a bureaucacy and that the United Way uses strong arm tactics to obtain funds. Some people feel that this is not the American way and that there are “too many hands in the till” when it comes to collecting fundraising monies.

Funding for the United Way comes from local contributions. They also offer the convenience of payroll deduction through the support of local employers, which allows employees to give a substantial annual gift through small weekly contributions. You can also donate online through their website. All gifts to United Way go directly to fund programs that help people most in need. There is no other organization that does more with charitable contributions and that is why many people choose to include the United Way in their charitable giving plan.