Frequently Asked Questions

The Answers You Need

Is United Way local?

Yes! All the money stays right here in our 5-county region; Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Leelanau.

What does my gift to the Community Fund support?

An unrestricted gift to the Community Fund supports programs and services in our 5-county region that focus on 3 areas: Education, Basic Needs, and Health. These are the cornerstone of a strong community and United Way supports these three areas within our region.

How does United Way make sure Community Fund $$$ are spent according to the grant purposes?

We have a Community Advisory Team (CAT) that makes all funding decisions. The CAT is comprised of donors and volunteers who know what the needs are in our community. These volunteers interview all grant applicants and work together to decide what programs are most beneficial to our communities.


United Way does due diligence when it comes to accounting for grant dollars. All agencies receiving funding must report back to United Way in the form of interim grant reports and must also provide information and stories regarding how funding has been used to support the funded programs. When the year has ended, United Way requests that all agencies complete a year-end impact report regarding their program. This report is required and funded programs must meet all requirements to be eligible for future grants.

What is considered a “leadership” gift?

A leadership gift is any annual gift of $500 or more.

Can I make a designation?

Designations can be made in one of two ways.  You can choose among the  three focus areas- education, basic needs, or health, and let the Community Advisory Team evaluate the applications and make, as well as monitor, grants for programs that will achieve your goal of making a real difference in the area you care most about. This is the most effective way to designate your donation and have the impact you desire. Designations can also be made to any registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, but we encourage you to keep your designation local! You are encouraged to provide the mailing address for your selected nonprofit to insure proper designation. A designation can be made as long as the gift is $60 or more. Every effort to properly assign your designation will be made. In the case that the organization is not IRS Compliant or the minimum donor threshold is not met, the donation will be assigned to the Community Impact Fund.

Is our privacy protected?

At United Way of Northwest Michigan, our donors and volunteers are a respected asset to our organizational mission. Donations to designated agencies and the Community Impact Fund are not disclosed to recipients. We never sell or share contact information. Leadership donors will be noted in our Annual Community Impact Report unless they advise their intention to remain anonymous. Web donations are secured by an accredited payment agent.

Who are your partner agencies?

There are some United Way organizations that still use the Partner Agency model, our United Way does not. This model prevented agencies from fundraising, wasn’t prone to an annual evaluation for effectiveness, and didn’t encourage collaboration. We are pleased to use the Impact Model;  it is widely recognized by advanced United Ways as the best way to make a difference in our communities.  Agencies in the circles of community impact may change annually based on a review of programs and community needs. UW supports agencies that collaborate to make a difference in Health, Education and Basic Needs for people in crisis.  We find that when there is an incentive for agencies to work together, it is less competitive and more cooperative.  With finite resources, United Way is pleased to lead our community to encourage and expect efficiency and effective program alliances to impact meaningful change.

How can I get more involved with United Way?

To be more involved in the efforts of your local United Way, or to discover more information on becoming a Community Volunteer or Advocate, contact your local United Way at (231) 947-3200 or Volunteer Page.

Your contribution, when combined with the gifts of others, makes a powerful impact in our community. A single gift through United Way will address many challenges in Northwest Michigan and help hundreds of thousands of lives.

Imagine that with a single gift you are making an impact on the health, education, and income of our entire community.

If I am a Rotarian, can I make a matching gift?

Yes! If you are a Rotarian in the five-county area, your gift is eligible to be matched by the Community Foundation Rotary Endowment. Learn more and download matching request forms at

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