Frequently Asked Questions2024-05-14T16:44:33-05:00

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Start here. Don’t see an answer? Give us a call at (316) 267-1321.


What is United Way of the Plains?2021-09-14T14:30:15-05:00

United Way of the Plains is a local, volunteer-driven organization that brings together people and resources from across the community to tackle the issues that matter most. Whether that means building partnerships, advocacy, fundraising, grant writing or bringing people together around focused issues—that’s what United Way does. Learn more about what we do.

Who runs our local United Way?2023-08-10T15:27:48-05:00

Our United Way is a local organization run by community volunteers who determine all policies, procedures and decisions. We are autonomous from United Way Worldwide. These dedicated volunteers, with support from United Way’s professional staff, oversee every aspect of the organization. Community leaders monitor and govern United Way’s financial operations and ensure that funds are prudently managed. Volunteers from the community assist the annual fundraising campaign. Diverse groups of volunteers help evaluate nonprofit agency applications for funding awards that are approved by our board of directors.

How large is the United Way system?2023-08-10T15:57:28-05:00

United Way Worldwide includes approximately 1,800 community-based United Way organizations in the United States and in other countries. Each is independent, separately incorporated, and governed by local volunteers. In total, voluntary contributions to United Ways support thousands of agencies and chapters, helping millions of people from all walks of life and income groups. Apart from government, United Ways support the greatest variety of health and human services in the country.

What is United Way Worldwide?2023-08-10T15:53:53-05:00

United Way Worldwide is the global service and training center, supporting its members with services that include advertising, training, corporate relations, research, networks and government relations. Our United Way is a local organization run by community volunteers who determine all policies, procedures and decisions. We are autonomous from United Way Worldwide. United Way Worldwide is governed by a volunteer board. The first national service center was established in 1918.

I already give to my favorite charity. Why should I support the United Way Community Fund?2023-08-10T15:52:49-05:00

There are two main reasons:

  • Most of us have organizations we support because we know something about them. With United Way you can support other important programs that address our community’s greatest challenges. United Way volunteers monitor community needs and support programs and collaborations to address those needs. You can be confident that your donation is being used to strengthen the community.
  • United Way is unique. It does more than fund a wide variety of agency programs—United Way also convenes groups of organizations around issues, recruits volunteers for nonprofit organizations, provides an information and referral service (United Way 211), and provides a gift-in-kind program that arranges for product donations to go to local nonprofits for free.


What types of programs does United Way fund?2023-08-10T15:59:39-05:00

We look at problems in our community that need solved, the people that need help and the local programs that can meet those needs best. Our funding supports health and human service nonprofits in the areas of:

  • Health: Providing access to quality services so all can get – and stay – healthy.
  • Education: Helping children enter school ready to learn, achieve at grade level and graduate on time.
  • Financial Stability: Empowering adults with the resources and education needed to ensure fiscal security.
  • Basic Needs: Helping those in crisis cover their basic needs so they can survive today and move forward to live their best life possible.
How does United Way decide which agencies to fund?2023-08-10T16:04:04-05:00

United Way of the Plains invests in the community through three nonprofit investment opportunities: Opportunity on the Plains, Promise on the Plains and Impact on the Plains. Each supports our work to advance the common good in our focus areas of health, education, financial stability and basic needs.

  • Opportunity on the Plains: The largest, annual investment program from United Way of the Plains to help meet the most pressing needs in our community. Applications are accepted in the winter.
  • Promise on the Plains: Helps nonprofits close gaps and disparities in our focus areas in the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community. Applications are accepted in the spring.
  • Impact on the Plains: A “Shark Tank”-style social innovation competition in pursuit of bold solutions to community issues. Applications are accepted in the summer.

Panels of community judges review nonprofit grant applications in each funding stream and make final funding recommendations.

Does United Way fund political campaigns?2023-08-10T16:09:00-05:00

No. United Way represents a neutral ground where people can join together for the greater good of the community.

What does United Way do besides raise money?2023-08-10T16:13:02-05:00

United Way of the Plains works year-round to make our community a better place to live and work. United Way does this in many ways, including:

  • Operating United Way 211 Information and Referral service that connects people to nonprofit and government human services with an easy-to-remember phone number (dial 2-1-1 toll free, statewide). Callers can find needed services or volunteer opportunities. Information also available by searching online at, texting your ZIP Code to 898-211 or chatting live with a referral specialist at
  • Promoting volunteerism and youth involvement throughout the community through United Way Volunteer Center.
  • Operating the Give Items of Value program which accepts donated items from companies and offers them at no charge to nonprofits.
  • Fostering literacy and a love of reading in preschool children by funding the administrative costs and postage fees for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The program mails a free, age-appropriate book monthly to children until they turn five years old.
  • Offering free tax preparation services for low-to-moderate income households through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. With the help of IRS-certified volunteers, VITA saves clients money, helps them access larger returns and connects them to resources to build their financial stability.
  • Researching and planning for community needs.
  • Reviewing United Way agencies and community needs to direct funds where they will do the most good. Learn more at
  • Providing feet on the ground and a supportive presence to lead long-term recovery when disasters and devastating events strike communities across our state. Learn more at
  • Collaborating with community groups to study challenges and work toward solutions.

Learn more about what we do.

Who does United Way fund?2020-08-23T20:37:35-05:00

Learn more about the local programs we fund.

What is the Community Fund?2023-08-10T16:14:15-05:00

The Community Fund is the title for all the undesignated donations we receive. Your gift joins thousands of other contributions to change the odds for countless individuals and families in our region. Through your undesignated gift to the Community Fund:

  • United Way will continue to support individual agency programs that have addressed tremendous needs in our community. They will be funded through our traditional process of reviewing grant requests from local agencies and setting aside funds for specific programs. See who we fund.
  • United Way will continue to run innovative programs such as:
    • 211 Information and Referral: 24/7 free helpline that connects people to food, shelter, and other vital services.
    • Volunteer Center: The Volunteer Center can match your interests and talents with the needs of nonprofit organizations in Wichita and south central Kansas.
    • Give Items of Value: Companies donate items that are made available to area nonprofits for free.
    • Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library: preschool children receive free, age-appropriate books each month until they turn five years old.
  • United Way will expand its collective impact work.
What is collective impact work?2023-08-10T16:14:47-05:00

Sometimes community-level problems are beyond the scope of any one organization or even service sector. To remedy such problems, United Way of the Plains has adopted a unique problem-solving approach called collective impact. Through collective impact work, United Way acts as a convener organization to bring cross-sector partners together, including nonprofit organizations, schools, churches, businesses, labor, foundations, cities, government entities and donors. Together, we tackle our most pressing challenges and take advantage of our biggest opportunities. Collective impact requires that partners work together to:

  • create a vision and set goals
  • align programs and strategies
  • track and share data to measure success
  • and continuously communicate among partners.


What is the donor option policy?2023-08-10T16:17:07-05:00

You can designate a contribution to any local, health or human service 501(c)3 organization that meets United Way policies by writing the name and address of the organization on your pledge form. A minimum gift of $100 per nonprofit is required. Giving through United Way reduces costly and time-consuming fundraising efforts for those agencies, so their time can be spent helping those in need.

Where can I find more information about donor option?2023-08-10T16:20:26-05:00

Read our full Donor Designation Policy.


What is United Way’s overhead costs for fundraising and administration?2023-08-10T16:25:39-05:00

United Way’s volunteer system keeps overhead costs for fundraising and administration to a minimum. Approximately 85 cents of every donated dollar goes directly to help local people in need. Compare that to expensive fundraising events, which often raise less than 50 cents per dollar for charitable causes. This overhead is lower than most charities and much lower than the Better Business Bureau’s guideline of 35 percent or less for overhead.

Where does my donation go when I give to United Way?2023-08-10T16:26:42-05:00

Your donation stays local. Donations raised during the fundraising campaign are used to fund a wide variety of health and human service programs at local, nonprofit agencies beginning the following year. Donations also support United Way’s collective impact work and direct services: United Way Volunteer Center, United Way 211 Information and Referral, and Give Items of Value (GIV) Program (a gift-in-kind program). Because United Way’s overhead and administration costs are so low, you know your donation is reaching those who need help most.

How do I know my donation is used effectively?2020-08-23T21:05:54-05:00

Every three years, United Way researches the needs in our community, asking thousands of people throughout the community what issues affect their homes, families and jobs. This information and other research is shared with approximately 150 grant review volunteers who monitor agencies and make sure your money is well spent.

How can I give to United Way?2023-08-10T16:27:34-05:00

We offer a variety of ways for donors to support our work, including payroll deduction and online recurring gifts. View the many ways you can give.

Is my donation tax-deductible?2023-08-10T16:28:08-05:00

United Way of the Plains is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3 charity. As such, contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Did the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)” that was passed in 2017, and became effective on Jan. 1, 2018, eliminate charitable giving as a tax deduction?2023-08-10T16:28:44-05:00

No. With respect to charitable deductions, TCJA most notably raised the standard deduction levels and increased the maximum charitable deduction that can be claimed in a given year by individuals that itemize deductions. We encourage you to visit with your tax advisor on how the new legislation may impact your personal tax situation as it relates to charitable giving.

I don’t live in Sedgwick County. Why should I give to United Way of the Plains?2023-08-10T16:32:10-05:00

United Way of the Plains serves the people of south central Kansas, including Sedgwick, Barber, Butler, Cowley, Harper, Kingman, Pratt, and Sumner Counties, and parts of Reno and Harvey Counties.

My workplace doesn’t run a United Way campaign. How can we get involved?2023-08-10T16:33:04-05:00

Give us a call at (316) 267-1321 or visit our corporate hub. We’d love to work with you to start a United Way campaign.

I feel pressured to give at my workplace. What should I do?2023-08-10T16:33:44-05:00

Giving should always be a personal matter and decision, free from coercion. Campaigns should not use undue pressure in any way, shape or form. That’s not who we are, and it’s in direct conflict with our operating standards. We emphasize the use of information and education, not pressure tactics. Please contact our Vice President of Philanthropy at (316) 267-1321 if you have felt pressured to donate to United Way at your workplace.

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