United Way Bay Area

How will my gift to United Way be invested?

Your gift to United Way Bay Area’s Community Fund joins thousands of other contributions to change the odds for the one in five Bay Area residents who cannot make ends meet. Through your generosity, we are able to run innovative poverty-fighting programs such as:

  • 211: United Way’s free helpline open 24/7 to connect people to food, shelter, and other vital services.
  • SparkPoint: United Way’s one-stop financial education centers where people can access free coaching and multiple services.
  • Earn It! Keep It! Save It!: United Way’s free tax preparation service.
  • MatchBridge: United Way’s youth employment program, moving young people into jobs.
  • Emergency Assistance Network (EAN) Santa Clara County: United Way’s program that creates a safety net of essential services for all Santa Clara County residents.

United Way also plays a leadership role in our community. We bring together thousands of companies, non-profits, labor unions and individuals to develop larger strategies and use the power of our collective impact to tackle poverty.

What is 211 ?

211 is a toll-free helpline that connects people with important community services such as child care, flu-shot information, employment assistance, volunteer opportunities, counseling, food, shelter and more. Available 24 hours a day in more than 150 languages, 211 is an integral component of disaster-response infrastructure, directing callers to food, shelter and evacuation routes.

What is the difference between United Way Bay Area, other local United Ways and United Way Worldwide?

Although part of a national movement focused on measurable community impact, United Way Bay Area is an independent nonprofit organization serving the eight Bay Area counties. We pay dues to United Way Worldwide for which we receive membership as a United Way organization and other benefits such as training and NFL advertising. We operate autonomously— with the flexibility to address the specific needs of the Bay Area—while having the ability to draw on the best ideas of United Ways throughout the country.

Do you accept tangible donations?

United Way Bay Area is able to accept only some kinds of personal and real property gifts. Please see our Gift Acceptance Policy (PDF) for more information.

Can I make a contribution to my favorite nonprofit through the United Way Bay Area campaign?

Yes. You can make a contribution to any 501(c)3 organization of your choice by writing the name and address of the organization on your contribution form. A minimum gift of $100 per nonprofit is required. Economy of scale helps us effectively fundraise for thousands of Bay Area nonprofits. Giving through United Way reduces costly and time-consuming fundraising efforts for those agencies, so their time can be spent helping community members.

Has United Way processed my gift ? How can I get information about my contribution?

Contact Gift Processing at 1-800-273-1779 or email

What’s your overhead?

United Way Bay Area’s overhead expense ratio is 17.9% based on our FY2016 IRS Form 990 tax return. For nonprofits, the Better Business Bureau suggests this ratio be no more than 35% of each gift.

We keep our expenses low through a commitment to organizational efficiency, a high level of volunteer participation, in-kind services provided by our Board of Directors, partners, and responsible investments. In addition to supporting United Way Bay Area’s community impact, giving and volunteer programs, our overhead expense also enables us to distribute donor–designated contributions to more than 3,000 nonprofit agencies.

What if I feel pressured to give?

United Way has a clear non-coercion policy, and discourages coercion in any form. Our community impact is made possible because so many people give voluntarily. Any semblance of pressure (whether real, implied or perceived) is contradictory to our operating standards. If you feel that you have been pressured to give, please contact your Employee Campaign Chairperson to express your concern, or contact Gift Processing at 1-800-273-1779. 

How can my nonprofit receive a grant or funding from United Way?

We provide financial support to nonprofits in two ways:

  • Through our annual workplace campaign, we offer contributors the opportunity to direct their gift to the nonprofit organizations of their choice. [See above "Can I make a contribution to my favorite nonprofit through the United Way Bay Area campaign?]
  • Through our Bay Area Community Fund, we invest in top-performing local programs that contribute to our poverty-cutting mission. To be eligible, your organization/program must be aligned with our focus areas and serve the seven-county Bay Area.

What is my agency’s designation code?

A code is not used for gifts directed to specific nonprofit agencies through our annual workplace campaign. Please note: Agency codes are required for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) as those employees are not allowed to write in agencies. For more information, contact Gift Processing at 1-800-273-1779 or email

How can my nonprofit be included in the online agency search tool?

As a resource for contributors who would like to direct their gift to specific nonprofits through our campaign, we provide a searchable online listing of nonprofits on our website. To be listed, your nonprofit must be a United Way grantee or have completed our Community Campaign Certification process. To request information about the Community Campaign Certification program, contact us at