About United Way: FAQs

What is United Way?

We bring people together from across our community — people from volunteering, government, labor, business, faith groups, nonprofits, and citizens — to tackle the issues that matter most. It requires fundraising and working together.

We focus on the underlying causes — it’s not enough to feed a hungry family — we look to change the conditions that lead to their hunger in the first place.

United Way is focused on improving lives and building stronger communities. It takes a whole community working together to pull it off.

We care about improving the overall quality of life in our community because we know that’s what matters to you.

man and boy with baseball mitts

Impact Areas

Health & Basic Needs


United Way funds services that strengthen the health and well-being of individuals and families who are most vulnerable. In alignment with the community, United Way recognizes four programmatic areas necessary to achieve health and well-being: (1) Basic Needs, (2) Safe, Healthy, Affordable Housing, (3) Mental Health care, and (4) Medical and Dental care.

We address the community’s health needs by targeting programs that demonstrate the following client and/or community outcomes:

  • Progress toward stability including but not limited to obtaining access to healthcare, benefits/entitlements enrollment, securing or maintaining safe shelter/housing
  • Healthy behavior, based on client goals, including but not limited to increases and maintenance of nutritious food intake and physical activity.
  • Decreases in negative health behavior, based on client goals, including but not limited to substance misuse and high-risk sexual activity
  • Measurable health improvements including but not limited to, improved and maintained blood sugar, decreased stress level, improved and maintained blood pressure, and decrease in depression.



United Way funds services that ensure young people have equitable access to gain the knowledge, skills and credentials so they are prepared for the workforce and able to obtain family sustaining employment. We recognize community investments are crucial from early childhood through transition to young adulthood (age 0-26).

We remove educational barriers for young people and their families by investing in programs that demonstrate the following client age-appropriate outcomes:

  • Meet or exceed age-appropriate developmental milestones
  • Gain positive parenting/co-parenting skills
  • Improve kindergarten readiness
  • Increase social connectedness
  • Increase prosocial behaviors
  • Develop positive values, social competencies, and positive identities
  • Improve or maintain academic performance
  • Graduate from high school on time, and/or earn HiSET, and/or earn credentials, based on client goals
  • Gain further education, vocational skills, and/or job readiness skills, based on client goals

Financial Stability


United Way funds services that strengthen the financial stability and economic mobility of individuals and families who are financially vulnerable.

We address the community’s financial stability needs by targeting programs that demonstrate the following client and/or community outcomes:

  • Gains in skills and/or credentials needed for employment and/or increased wages.
  • Gain and sustain employment and/or increase income.
  • Increase disposable income by increasing financial literacy and/or reducing costs and/or accessing benefits.

Does my gift to United Way really make an impact? Who really benefits?

United Way and its Partner Agencies multiply the impact of your giving by leveraging your gift with matching grants, gifts-in-kind, and caring volunteers — the result is that more can be done to improve people’s lives. We are a “force multiplier” in our community. Because of the donor support, United Way is able to generate other resources for our community. United Way has established a set of values to guide decisions about appropriate types of resources to pursue and when to take advantage of opportunities to leverage non-campaign support to advance our work. Community volunteers, agency representatives and local issue experts have identified impact areas and community initiatives:

A coordinated investment strategy that focuses on these underlying elements is the most effective way to reduce poverty and change conditions in our community. But we cannot reach our goals with dollars alone. We will promote and provide opportunities for community engagement, foster collaborations of businesses, non-profits, and community leaders, and mobilize the full breadth of our community’s assets – people, knowledge, relationships, technology and money – to improve the lives of people in need.

We are moving from simply funding the needs of agencies and programs to investing in strategies that improve peoples’ lives and thus our community. We will also invest in new partnerships to define and implement those strategies. This model creates the highest return on your investment because it is based on data-driven investment decisions, funding support of innovative and collaborative practices to address our community’s challenges, performance measurement, and accountability.

Through Community Impact, we will improve the lives of people facing the greatest challenges and ultimately our entire community. Together, we will see change. We will see Community Impact.

How much did Heart of Missouri United Way raise last year?

Pledges in 2022 totaled more than $3.16 million, which includes employee campaigns, corporate gifts, individual pledges, and special event revenue. Pledges are a commitment solicited from our donors that are generally not paid until the following year. Sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances, individuals will pledge their gift in good faith but, not be able to fulfill their pledge during the following year. We call these unfulfilled pledges “uncollectables.” We plan on an uncollectable rate of 5%.

man and woman reviewing papers

Who manages United Way?

We are a volunteer-driven organization. Our board of directors is composed of knowledgeable leaders from across our community. The board establishes policy and approves allocations of resources to assure that Heart of Missouri United Way is responsibly managed. Learn more about our board: uwheartmo.org/about-us

man teaching child about mechanics

Why not give my money directly to one agency?

Our agencies, like most of us individually, have faced a very difficult year with resources decreasing and needs increasing. By giving your gift through United Way, our agencies are able to use United Way allocations as matching funds for state, federal, and private grants. United Way provides level monthly funding to our Partner Agencies which allows them to plan in advance. By giving to United Way, you are making an investment in your community. Our investment strategy focuses on innovative funding of the underlying causes of our community’s greatest challenges, so you can ensure your donation will help us change our community conditions for the better.

What are the advantages of giving to United Way?

Maximize your investment. Our data-driven investment decisions and innovative funding strategies ensure the highest return on your investment — putting your dollars to work immediately to create community change. It’s easy to make a difference. The payroll deduction option with United Way makes donating easy and painless, plus it is tax deductible!

Local dollars working locally. Giving to Heart of Missouri United Way keeps your dollars working locally to meet current and future needs right here, where we live, work, raise our families and enjoy living. Bringing national initiatives to mid-Missouri. United Way 211 links people to the resources they need when they need them such as SingleCare Prescription Program provides a FREE prescription discount card program to mid-Missourians.

Volunteer directed funding. United Way relies on a diverse group of talented community volunteers to continually review, evaluate, and work with all our Partner Agencies to efficiently and thoughtfully invest United Way funds. More opportunities. United Way provides research, training, and capacity building programs for its Partner Agencies – valuable resources for valued partners!

Why should I give to the Community Campaign?

If you want your gift to have the greatest possible impact, make an undesignated gift. This means that your donation will join thousands of others who are tackling our community’s toughest human care problems, and offers assurance that the programs you’re supporting will make the most impact.

There is no other organization or process that takes on the challenge of planning, coordinating, and helping people succeed the way United Way does. We bring people together to agree on what needs to be done, decide how to do it, and then hold ourselves accountable for results.

I want my gift to go to a specific partner agency. Why should I go through United Way to do that?

One gift to United Way means you’re making a gift to the entire community. Plus, you’ll have the convenience of payroll deduction (if your company allows). Agencies can count United Way money as matching funds to secure other funding. United Way’s combined fund raising efforts allow area agencies to focus more time on their primary purpose — helping people.

Is my United Way contribution tax-deductible?

Yes. United Way is an IRS designated 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Please consult your tax advisor for information on your specific tax situation.


How much of my contribution goes to the community?

Just over 87 cents of every dollar committed to last year’s United Way campaign went directly to local community-building fundraising and initiatives.


How does United Way know that my money really helps people?

United Way works with a network of dedicated community volunteers to continually measure results and community impact. Partner Agency programs are funded based on the agency’s ability to achieve results in helping people improve their lives. As a condition of their funding, agencies are required to report results to United Way on a regular basis. United Way staff and volunteers work with agencies to improve programming throughout each funding cycle.

My spouse/partner gives at work. Why should I give?

If your spouse or partner supports United Way, that’s great! Your gift is just as important. Contributions based on your total family income help close the gap of unmet service needs in mid-Missouri. Additionally, we recognize couples who give $1,000 or more in combined gifts or more annually as Leadership Circle Members through special events and publications.

Are people forced to give at work?

United Way has always supported the concept of voluntary giving and does not support forced giving at the office. If giving monetarily is not an option we have opportunities to volunteer and advocate in the community.

I can’t afford to give to United Way.

Making ends meet is a concern for many of us. However, when you give to United Way, you are helping those who simply cannot make ends meet. You are helping the jobless, the elderly, and others who need you more than you can imagine. Every person’s gift makes an impact, and together they add up to a life-changing difference for someone in need. By using payroll deduction, you can direct a small amount of money from each paycheck to help others. As much as an hour’s pay per month can have a tremendous impact.

You can also give your time by volunteering for United Way or our partner agencies. View volunteer opportunities that match your location and interests at volunteer.uwheartmo.org 

Our employees and their families are suffering from the effects of the economy. We can’t ask them to give.

You empower people when you give them the opportunity to give even a small amount to help others. We encourage you to give people the opportunity to say no. Often, it’s the people who have struggled and needed a helping hand from their community that want to help others especially their co-workers. Offer your employees a fun, no pressure, and an education-focused campaign. At the very least, people will learn about places they or their friends can go for help or places to volunteer in our community.

You can also give your time by volunteering for United Way or our partner agencies. View volunteer opportunities that match your location and interests at volunteer.uwheartmo.org 

I never use agency services. Why should I give?

The strength of a community is directly influenced by the health, happiness, and the well-being of its residents. Everyday Heart of Missouri United Way programs are helping people – your friends, coworkers, and neighbors – deal with many health and human service issues. We help build a stronger community through education, support, and development programs. Your financial and volunteer support assures help is there for everyone when it is needed.

During our last reporting period more than 63,000 individuals in Boone, Cooper, and Howard counties utilized United Way Funded services. Chances are you or someone close to you has already used agency services and did not even know it.

Do United Way agencies only serve the people living in poverty?

No, but more than 96% of program participants live at or below the federal poverty level. Agencies and programs receiving United Way funding serve not only low-income families, but offer programs used by everyone.

For instance, if your child attends a youth development or after-school program, then you or a family member may have taken part in a United Way-funded program. And even if your family never has to call on a domestic violence shelter, or a substance abuse program, your contribution helps to assure these programs will be there if you need them.

Who benefits from my gift?

In a word – everyone! We know, when the entire community is healthy, happy, and well everyone benefits.