Frequently Asked Questions

What is United Way? United Way Worldwide is a network of more than 1,800 community-based, non-profit organizations that work to advance the common good by focusing on the building blocks for a better life: education, health, and income. By bringing together a broad range of financial and human resources, United Way is able to build partnerships and support local services that are accountable for delivering measurable results.  

Who are we? United Way of Blair County, located in Altoona, serves the people of Blair County by supporting programs that address the needs of our county residents in four locally identified focus areas: education, health, income, and meeting emergency needs. United Way of Blair County is governed by its Board of Directors, comprised of local business and community leaders, and assisted by more than 650 volunteers from the local community. Every decision at your United Way is made locally for the benefit of our community.

How were the areas of need (education, health, income, and meeting emergency needs) determined? United Way of Blair County and the Blair County Human Services Office spearheaded a county-wide comprehensive needs assessment. Key stakeholders, including residents of Blair County, were asked for their input. The information that was gathered was used to identify our community strengths and challenges. The county-wide needs assessment is now conducted every three years under the Healthy Blair County Coalition. United Way uses this information to help focus donor dollars and other resources toward the identified issues to improve the quality of life in Blair County.

How does United Way of Blair County support programs? United Way of Blair County raises money through the annual campaign. The money goes into a General Fund. Any 501(c)(3) agency in Blair County can apply for a grant from this fund to support programs they operate that address needs in one of the focus areas of education, health, income, and/or meeting emergency needs.

Who donates to the annual campaign? Many businesses hold United Way employee campaigns. In addition to accepting one-time gifts of cash or checks, the business may offer payroll deductions as an option for giving. This is an easy way to give a significant donation because it spreads the total giving amount over a long period of time. For example, pledging as little as two dollars per week will translate into a $104 donation by the end of one year! Other donations come from corporations, individuals or groups hosting special fundraisers. For over 78 years, our community has been helping to provide for local needs by supporting United Way of Blair County.

Why should I give to United Way? Each year, funding requests for valuable programs in Blair County far exceed the amount of money available to grant. Even with all the programs and agencies that United Way contributions support, there are still gaps in the services our community has to offer. Some essential services have waiting lists due to insufficient funding. Unfortunately, that often means that needs go unmet.  If you want to see proven programs available for more people who need them, that is a good reason to give generously to United Way. None of us know when or if we will need the services of a United Way funded program.  This year, United Way of Blair County’s impact will be felt by 38,000 individuals.

Can I really make a difference if I can’t afford a large gift? Only you can decide how much you are able or would like to contribute. But remember that every gift counts! When your donation is added together with those of your neighbors, it can make a real impact. If every Blair County resident gave just one dollar a week, the results would be amazing. And with payroll deduction, it’s so easy.

Who decides where the money goes? People just like you (bankers, teachers, union members, parents and retirees) right here in Blair County. These local volunteers are trained to review proposed programs and budgets, and then they decide how much money each program should receive, based on community needs and the program’s effectiveness in meeting those needs. The funded agencies are accountable to report program results. By the time the process is complete, more than 1,500 volunteer hours are devoted to making the best decisions possible for our community.  

Will the money I give to United Way go outside the community? No. The money designated to United Way of Blair County’s General Fund stays in Blair County to support local programs. Please review a copy of the United Way of Blair County’s brochure,which lists how donor dollars raised in the most recent campaign were distributed.