FAQs

What is United Way of Bucks County?
United Way of Bucks County (UW Bucks) is a volunteer-led, nonprofit organization that determines and addresses the greatest needs in Bucks County.  We are accountable for the stewardship of resources and we deliver both short-term and long-term results.

We are problem-solvers committed to making an impact, improving lives, and creating a prosperous community.

What does UW Bucks do?
We bring together the people and organizations with the passion, expertise, and resources needed to get things done.

We connect people to the building blocks of a great life: a quality education, a stable income, and good health.  We do that by building our own initiatives, like Bucks Knocks Out Hunger, Success By 6, and Bucks County Women’s Initiative, as well as by funding programs at dozens of local nonprofit agencies.  All of our programs and initiatives work in concert to promote education, income, and health, and all are regularly evaluated by effectiveness and efficiency.

For a complete list of the programs we fund, visit www.uwbucks.org/programs.  Information regarding our initiatives is updated frequently on our website and on social media (Twitter @uwbucks, Facebook/uwbucks, YouTube/uwbucks).

Why should I donate to UW Bucks?
People who donate to UW Bucks typically have one thing in common:  They care about Bucks County.

Beyond that, they see value in coming together to solve problems more efficiently.  They believe that access to education, income, and health matters to everyone.  And they want to make a real difference.

Our donors are strategic philanthropists.  They take action by investing in the greater good through us.  They understand that a stronger, healthier community benefits everyone who lives and works here.

How will my donation be used?  Who makes those decisions?
Your donation is used to connect people with opportunities for a better life.  We invest in education, income, and health through our own initiatives and the programs we fund at our partner agencies.

Dozens of volunteers are involved in an intensive process to review and evaluate which programs will be funded.  They look for programs that address community needs and match available funding to those that have the greatest impact.  United Way of Bucks County places high priority on programs that target the underlying or root causes of problems.  The same volunteers also conduct site visits to ensure that programs are running efficiently, meeting objectives, and yielding the desired outcomes.

Doesn’t it make more sense to donate to an agency that provides direct service?
Whether it goes to us or another group, any donation that makes a difference, particularly in Bucks County, means a lot to us.

However, a donation to UW Bucks is different than giving to a single agency.  Let’s use the metaphor of building a house.  If you wanted to build the strongest house – a place that would really stand the test of time – would you only invest in a plumber?  And then hope the rest of the house would somehow come together?  Or would you look for a trusted builder with the knowledge and experience needed to assemble a team and build a house?  Would you empower that person to get the right people working on the right tasks?

Most big projects require a team, often with different areas of specialization.  They also require coordination, oversight, and quality control.

We take a helicopter view, conduct needs assessments, ensure that your money is invested wisely and in the right programs, and look for the most efficient ways to build a better community.  People and issues in Bucks County are all interconnected.

No person or group can do it all alone.  We take that into consideration when we’re determining what projects and initiatives to fund, and when we’re building our teams.

What is your overhead?
When people ask that question, what they most often want to know is, “If I give you $1, how much will you actually spend on community needs?”  If that is your question, the answer is actually $2.

Because of the way we leverage funds, seek out grants to benefit Bucks County, and form strategic partnerships to bring in additional resources, for every $1 we receive, at least $2 in programs, goods, and services goes directly to individuals and groups Bucks County.

One challenge in our sector is that people often mistake low overhead for high efficiency.  Research tells us that this is dead wrong.  We highly recommend viewing Dan Pallotta’s TED talk for more information (http://on.ted.com/Pallotta).

That said, our “overhead” – which primarily covers a staff that works tirelessly to advance our mission – is very low.  It is around 16%.  What that 16% does in Bucks County is remarkable.

Each year on January 1st, UW Bucks basically starts with $0.  Over the course of the year, we secure over $4 million in donations, grants, and in-kind gifts, to be distributed exclusively in Bucks County.  These are resources that would not exist without us.  These resources are brought to Bucks County by overhead – our dedicated and professional nonprofit team.

If you ever want to meet some of our “overhead,” you have a standing invitation to visit our offices to learn how hard we work and how much you get when you invest in us. But we hope that you invest in us because of our impact and results, not because of low overhead!

Why does UW Bucks charge a processing fee if I designate my pledge to a specific agency?
Our organization is set up to advance our mission, which is to bring people and groups together to address the greatest needs.  This is best accomplished by pooling donations, leveraging them to achieve the greatest impact, then investing donations in the initiatives and programs that are most needed right now in Bucks County.

As a courtesy to donors who give through workplace campaigns, we do allow designations to nonprofits with a human service focus.  There is a cost to us to process your donation, verify the recipient group (a United Way standard and a US government requirement), get them the money, confirm receipt, account for the transaction, and insure against uncollected designations.  That cost is passed on to the donor.  Designations made through a recurring payroll deduction can incur a transaction fee of up to 20% because it is a labor intensive process for our staff.

When you donate to UW Bucks, you are reaching dozens of agencies, not just one.  With that in mind, if you truly care about just one issue or agency – and only want to help that one group – you honestly may be better off donating directly to them.  We hope that you are as passionate about them as our donors are about us!

If you are ready to address the greatest needs in our community, help dozens of nonprofits, and LIVE UNITED, click here to donate.