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I know so many people who are successful and happy, and know that the support of their families and communities deserves some of the credit for their prosperity. Many of them want to give back. With so many charities and causes to choose from, however, and the fear that your contribution won’t make it into the right hands, it can be dizzying to figure out where your money and time is best spent.

I have been working with United Way for the past fifteen years, and I am confident in the work they do and proud to help serve my community. If you’re looking to get involved, there are many fantastic organizations out there, but here are some reasons that United Way is a good fit for me.

Stand Together

You won’t be alone in your mission. United Way is the world’s world’s largest charity by donations, with two million volunteers and 9.6 million donors. In this case, size really does matter. The more people are involved, the more collective power an organization has, which lends it the legitimacy to land partnerships with governments, educators, global and local businesses, and more. Because of its size United Way is able to operate all across the globe in 1,800 communities and more than 40 countries, leveraging its strength in each and every community to have a far greater impact than any one person could have alone.

All in the Family

Actually, you can choose exactly where your United Way donation goes. If you have a favorite charity or cause, United Way will honor your wishes and put your money exactly where you want it. If you don’t request any specific use, however, the great majority of your donation stays right where you are, helping the people you pass on the sidewalk and building a stronger community around you.

Trust and Transparency

I know that when I give to United Way, my money goes straight to fund the programs that matter most. 92 percent of all donations goes directly to funding programs,  while the other 8 percent goes to further fundraising and administration costs. This is well below the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability. They keep themselves honest by requiring that every local chapter agree to oversight from independent review boards, audits, and strict limits on marketing tactics. It’s certainly working, because they received a top score in Accountability and Transparency from Charity Navigator.

Expect Results

United Way programs are funded based directly on the results they achieve, ensuring that every effort is as successful for the community as possible. That’s the reason they are able to share such inspiring reports as 100% of veteran homelessness eliminated in Phoenix, Arizona, the highest ever recorded high school graduation rate in 2012 at 81%, and 60,000 people gained access to healthcare right here in Atlanta, Georgia.

Building Strong Communities

Most importantly, United Way is dedicated to building strong communities starting at their foundations. They help answer unmet needs by focusing in three key areas: Health, Income, and Education. It’s the old “teach a man to fish” adage. By putting their energies — and yours — towards these fundamentals, they are ensuring that the aid they provide will long outlast the money that funded it instead of just providing a quick fix that relies on continued support to sustain itself.

 
If you’re inspired, or just want to learn more, visit the United Way website, or go straight to the local Atlanta chapter here.