Frequently Asked Questions

What is United Way of Greater Topeka?

doc-2016-pat-capfed-sm-groupUnited Way brings together people, companies and nonprofits to create positive sustainable change. We work to solve issues no single donor, charity or government agency can handle alone. By focusing on education, income and health, we help more children graduate and get stable jobs, help families become financially stable and improve the overall health of our community.

For more than 80 years, United Way has been serving Greater Topeka. Since 1980, United Way has invested more than $110 million into the Greater Topeka Community.

Is United Way a local or national organization?

United Way of Greater Topeka is a local, autonomous, nonprofit organization governed by a local volunteer board of directors. In exchange for nominal dues, United Way Worldwide provides staff training, community research information, localizable materials, NFL advertising and ongoing consultation to local United Ways.

Why should I invest in the community through United Way?

United Way brings together people, businesses, schools and nonprofits to create positive sustainable change in our community. Your support, combined with the support of thousands of others, enables us to address issues identified as our community’s most pressing problems –issues no single investor, charity or government agency can handle alone.


Why does United Way focus on education, financial stability and health?

Education, financial stability and health are the building blocks of a quality life. They change people’s lives for the better. All three also impact the success of our businesses, our economy and the future of our community. United Way invests in collective strategies designed to improve these conditions and prevent problems before they start . Our strategies help more children graduate and get good jobs, families become financially stable, and improve community health by empowering people to live healthy, responsible lives.

Our Community Impact Goals:

  • Children are ready to learn when they start school
  • Children keep up with their peers and graduate high school
  • Individuals and families are financially stable
  • Everyone lives healthy, responsible lives by making good choices

Does United Way still fund Basic Needs?

Yes. Supporting Basic Needs remains foundational to United Way’s work. This support focuses on rent and utilities, food, health assistance/prescriptions and safety from domestic violence. Without having their basic needs met, children may have difficulty learning in school, families may struggle to be financially stable and individuals and families may struggle to maintain good health.

How are United Way investments determined?

Investment decisions are made by volunteers from the community. As part of a competitive grant process, community volunteers meet to review submitted proposals aimed at achieving the community impact goals and addressing the Basic Needs issues listed above. Proposals showing the greatest ability to meet the goals are awarded funding. United Way staff and board members have no influence over which proposals receive funding.

How will United Way know if it is achieving its goals?

It is important to know that we are moving toward achieving our 10-year goals. United Way annually compares current statistics with the benchmarks used to determine the community goals. United Way works with its partners to achieve short- and long-term results toward its goals. Reporting from our community partners will allow us to measure progress or identify when course corrections are needed to achieve results.

How much of my money gets put to work in the community?

Your donation is put to work whether it is invested directly into our community initiatives or whether it supports our staff in facilitating and coordinating the work that helps children succeed in school, families become financially stable and improves the overall health of the community.

It is important to note that the return on your investment is often multi-fold:

  • Your support may be leveraged to attract additional money through outside grants which are then invested into the community.
  • The $5,000 United Way invests into the VITA program to help people get their tax returns prepared and filed brings $10 million back into the community.
  • In early childhood education, statistics show that every $1 invested results in $7 worth of benefit to the community.

How much of my gift goes to service versus administrative costs?

The Better Business Bureau and the IRS recommend that nonprofits spend no more than 35 percent on overhead. Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator to which United Way of Greater Topeka subscribes, states that the most efficient charities spend less than 25% on fundraising and administrative fees. The United Way of Greater Topeka’s percentage of administrative and fundraising costs was 19.2 percent in 2014 — less than half of what the BBB and IRS consider the benchmark.

Can I designate my donation to a specific organization?

Yes. For a minimum $50 contribution to each partner organization or other United Way that you choose, you may designate all or a portion of your donation to a United Way partner organization. Eligible organizations are listed on our website at All designated gifts to eligible organizations are honored regardless of the amount the organization may receive through the grant process.

Some of our employees are struggling. How can we ask them to give?

Often, people who have recently struggled and have seen the benefits of a helping hand are the ones who most want to help others. They appreciate the opportunity to make a gift, even if is small, or they may wish to volunteer or serve as advocates for United Way’s work.

Everyone should have the opportunity to express caring through philanthropic giving whether it is a financial gift or a gift of time through volunteering or advocating.

Payroll deduction makes it easy to give small amounts that add up and combine with the gifts of others in the community to achieve an even greater impact.

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