Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is United Way of Greater Los Angeles?

A: We’re a nonprofit organization that creates pathways out of poverty to improve the quality of life for all in Los Angeles County. We’re part of a national movement that includes over 1,300 community-based United Way organizations. Each is independent, separately incorporated, and governed by local volunteers.

Q: Why is UWGLA focusing on poverty?

A: Because Los Angeles County is facing a social and economic crisis that affects us all. Decades of growth and prosperity have made this into a dynamic and diverse region, but in the last ten years, our economy has slowed enormously. We have become a community of “haves” and “have-nots.”

  • We’re the homeless capital of the nation.
  • Only 71% of students graduate in L.A. County; 61% at LAUSD.
  • Nearly a third of our full-time workers earn less than $25,000 per year.

Q: Why should I be concerned about the poverty crisis?

A: Because poverty threatens the success of our businesses, our economy and the future of our community. Young people are trapped in low-wage jobs, leading to a lower tax and revenue base. Businesses struggle to find qualified workers and the growth in homelessness and working poverty leads to community instability and a diminished quality of life for all of us.

Q: How is UWGLA addressing the root causes of poverty?

A: To keep up with a changing environment, we’ve chosen to focus our 10-year goals on providing long-term solutions in three interconnected areas that are the root causes of poverty:

  • Providing housing stability.
    Goal: Reduce homelessness by 75%                                                                             
  • Helping students graduate from high school prepared for college and the workforce
    Goal: Increase high school graduation rate from 60 to 75%
    *The current graduation rate in L.A. County is 71%; 61% at LAUSD
  • Teaching adults job skills and financial education
    Goal: Ensure families have jobs and the financial education they need to be economically stable

Q: Why is UWGLA uniquely qualified to lead the movement to end poverty in Los Angeles County?

A: Because we have decades of experience, building community and business relationships all across the county. And we have the long-term vision and the strategic focus to make change happen.

Q: Why is UWGLA involved in advocacy work?

A: Because real and sustained change requires more than money. By focusing our efforts on local and state public policy, we’re able to treat many of the root causes of poverty by changing the systems behind them. For example, a solid high school education will lead to better jobs and college which means higher wages.

  • We advocated for a resolution that passed at LAUSD to create smaller classes and smaller schools, impacting almost 700,000 students.
  • In partnership with parents, teachers, students and elected officials, we successfully advocated for access to college prep classes (A-G) at two major school districts, benefiting almost 800,000 students.

Q: How much of my donation will go back to the community in which I live?

A: Our goal is to focus our efforts on the areas which are in greatest need and where we are able to do the most effective job.

Unfortunately, there are pockets of poverty and homelessness all throughout the county. We have programs in place in all of the 5 regions of Greater Los Angeles which we serve, including Antelope Valley, Harbor/Southeast, Los Angeles, San Fernando and San Gabriel. In all 5 regions, we place a greater emphasis on the neighborhoods with the highest levels of need.

Q. What is the benefit of combining all my charitable giving through UWGLA?

A: We provide you with a convenient service by directing your gifts to a number of charities and deducting a small amount of money from your paycheck at a time – allowing you to contribute more than you might be able to in a one-time gift and giving you a chance to make a bigger difference for people in need.

By combining all your giving through the United Way campaign, you have the convenience of making one gift per year while we handle the administrative details of your charitable giving. By contributing to your company’s United Way campaign, you’re also helping your company realize its charitable goals and philanthropic leadership in the community.

Q: How do UWGLA operating costs compare to other similar organizations?

A: According to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, a nonprofit’s overhead should not exceed 35%. United Way of Greater Los Angeles is well below that with an overhead of 12.7%. Other similar nonprofits average approximately 18%. (American Red Cross is 22%).

Q: What are UWGLA’s administrative fees?

A: If you donate to our Creating Pathways Out of Poverty plan, there is no administration fee, allowing your gift to reach more people in need. A fee is, however, charged for designated donations to any specific charity other than United Way (e.g. the Red Cross or Children’s Hospital). Standard administrative fees are 8% for eWay electronic processing and 9% for all other processing, with a maximum fee of $500.00 per year, per donor. These fees help cover the cost of our internal controls and infrastructure needed to provide the highest level of quality assurance to our donors.

Q: How do I receive documentation of my gift for tax purposes?

A: Nonprofit organizations are required to provide receipts for all gifts of $250 or more. If you make a gift of $100 or greater, United Way of Greater Los Angeles automatically sends a confirmation of your gift to your home or work address, as long as you or your company has provided that information. (Not all companies share donor information with us so we are not able to thank all donors).

For gifts under $100 or to prove full payment on a payroll deduction contribution, the end-of-year pay stub may be used or a confirmation can be requested from your local United Way or designated agency. Additionally, a tax letter is sent in January for all Paid-in-Full (i.e.; cash, check, credit card, etc) gifts greater than $250 received at one time during the prior year. As per IRS Guidelines, gifts in amounts less than $250 or more will not receive tax letters, even if the cumulative total is greater than $250.

Q: How does an organization qualify to be one of your partners?

A: The organization must be a local 501c3 nonprofit organization. In January/February 2015, we will open up our next 2-year cycle of a competitive funding process to all local 501c3 nonprofits. Additional funding opportunities will be available through our Home For Good Funders Collaborative. Proposals will be evaluated by two separate reviewers based on our three impact areas of housing and health care, education and financial stability including the following:

  • Successful track record and fiscally sound
  • Program design and goals
  • Appropriate outreach to the target population
  • Scale of results
  • Geographic reach
  • Culturally and linguistically accessible
    • High quality organizational management and operations

Q: How do the troubles at other United Ways affect our United Way?

A: Each one of the more than 1,300 United Ways in the country is autonomous and managed by local volunteers. United Way of Greater Los Angeles is audited annually by Ernst & Young to ensure that it is adhering to all established accounting practices and standards.

Q: What is the Tocqueville Society?

A: The Tocqueville Society has been at the forefront of L.A.’s philanthropic community for over 20 years. This exclusive group is committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in long-term solutions to create lasting change. Tocqueville members donate $10,000 annually and enjoy special benefits which include an invitation to our Tocqueville Society gala and networking events such as seminars on current affairs.

Please note that there is a special cost recovery charge at the Tocqueville level; if you designate more than $5,000 of your gift to specific charities, there will be a $500 cost recovery charge for administrative services, but if you leave at least $5,000 to the Creating Pathways Out of Poverty Plan there is no processing or designation fee.

Q: What is Women Leaders?

A: Women Leaders is dedicated to tackling the root causes of poverty and creating change in our communities. These remarkable women also seek to energize and inspire other women to take on leadership roles in business and the community. As a Woman Leader, you will be asked to lend your support by making a gift to United Way’s Creating Pathways Out of Poverty plan (Associate Level – $1,000; Executive Level $2,500 or more.)

Q: What is Leadership Circle?

A: Members of United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Leadership Circle are passionate about making a difference in the lives of those in need in our communities. Leadership donors give a gift of $1,000 a year and are actively engaged in improving the quality of life for all.

Q: What is Emerging Leaders?

A: United Way of Greater Los Angeles Emerging Leaders is a group of professionals under the age of 40 committed to fighting poverty in our community. Through a contribution of $1,000 a year to our Creating Pathways Out of Poverty plan, Emerging Leaders take action on critical issues affecting Los Angeles and engage others to do the same.