United Way FAQs

For more in-depth answers on these questions and others, please visit the FAQs on the United Way of the Lower Mainland web site.

What is United Way of the Lower Mainland?

United Way of the Lower Mainland is a charitable organization dedicated to creating healthy, caring and inclusive communities throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. It relies on donations from individuals, workplaces, charitable trusts, corporate gifts, sponsorship, and money raised by individuals to improve lives and create measurably better communities.

Why should I give to the United Way?

When you give to United Way of the Lower Mainland, you are making a profound difference in people’s lives in your local community, and improving the quality of life we all enjoy. You are helping at-risk children get the best start in life, and helping them to grow up healthy, happy, and resilient. You are helping isolated seniors to age with dignity and stay connected to their communities. You are helping to build a better tomorrow for everyone.

United Way of the Lower Mainland has been improving local lives since 1930 and making a measurable difference in our community. Over this time, United Way has developed partnerships with local citizens, agencies, and organizations who help make the greatest impact. United Way is more than a funder, United Way brings people together to solve social issues and improve local lives in the communities we call home. Additionally, United Way undertakes research to get to the root cause of our community’s greatest challenges; strengthens nonprofit organizations, enabling them to deliver life-changing programs; multiplies impact by working in partnerships; raises our voice to influence public attitudes, systems and policies; and evaluates the performance of our investments and efforts to ensure long-term social change. Giving to the United Way is a step towards creating a community everyone is proud to call home.

What is the United Way’s fundraising and administration cost?

United Way of the Lower Mainland has one of the lowest fundraising costs in the country – approximately 15 cents for each dollar raised (well below the Canadian average of 26 cents). Approximately 85 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to United Way supported programs and services.

United Way offsets their already low fundraising costs through the Campaign Associates program. Every year, local organizations and unions generously sponsor or loan employees to the United Way. Organizations like UBC, who sponsors two students each year, help United Way during their annual fundraising campaign. Together, Campaign Associates raise millions of dollars for United Way programs and initiatives. These associates increase the fundraising power at no cost to United Way, which means that more of every dollar raised can be invested right back into community.

Where does my money go?

United Way invests in building a healthy, caring, and inclusive community. It goes to helping children be all that they can be and thrive. It enables seniors to age with dignity and to live in their own homes, surrounded by friends, families, and neighbours. In addition, these dollars support the BC 211’s helpline, community crisis lines, volunteer centres, research, advocacy, and innovative efforts – such as the United Way Public Policy Institute – that create strong and effective non-profits.

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, United Way quickly pivoted, developed, and invested in programs and resources to serve the immediate needs of our local community, as well as provide continued support to families and individuals. United Way invests in resources that ensures people have access to life’s essentials; supports isolated and vulnerable seniors; ensures community partners continue their vital work; and enables crisis lines and system navigation services. United Way launched over 100 Local Love Food Hubs throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, providing families and individuals with access to food and other essential goods. United Way also mobilized everyday citizens to volunteer to help those in need, by delivering groceries and prepared meals, picking up groceries, giving phone and/or virtual calls, and providing other non-medical essentials.

What is the impact? 

When you donate to United Way you ensure children in your community are growing up, able to take advantage of opportunities and their families are empowered to help them succeed. Seniors are no longer isolated and are able to share their wisdom and experience with the rest of their community. You’re helping to strengthen our communities and change people’s lives for the better. In simple terms, the work United Way of the Lower Mainland does – preventing social issues, researching, planning, funding programs and services, and evaluating who and how we are helping – has lasting impact. With your help, we are making the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley stronger.

How are people helped by United Way?

Helping Kids and Youth Succeed – When you give directly to United Way of the Lower Mainland, young children get a healthy start and school-aged kids succeed. When kids develop critical skills at a young age, they build a path to a successful life – and kids that grow up to be great make our communities great too. We believe that every child across the Lower Mainland deserves an equal opportunity to be all that they can be.

  • 29 United Way School’s Out programs provided vulnerable elementary students across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley with healthy, safe, educational activities after-school in 2019/20.
  • 43,500 kids participate in healthy, safe, and educational activities through after-school programs that improve their academic success and increase their self confidence and self-esteem.
  • Each year United Way donors create brighter futures for 140,000 kids.
  • United Way invests approximately $5-million each year in after-school programs; neighbourhood-driven initiatives to reach vulnerable kids; and special supports for Aboriginal children, refugee children, children with disabilities, and survivors of abuse.
  • United Way funding supported almost 2,000 additional out-of-school programs through community schools including those for over 1,500 Indigenous children ensuring access to quality programs and opportunities that address their developmental and cultural needs in safe spaces.
  • We’re seeing results; 85% of kids are now enrolled in after-school activity. That’s a 35% increase from 10 years ago.

Health Aging for Seniors in BC – Supporting our older adults to stay active, engaged, and connected in their communities defines the work of Healthy Aging by United Way. Through collaboration with a vast network of partners, from governments and researchers to community-based service providers, volunteers, donors, and older adults; United Way is tackling seniors’ isolation and enhancing the quality of life for older British Columbians, their families, friends, caregivers, and allies.

  • There are 102 Healthy Aging programs in 2019/20.
  • 18,200 seniors keep connected to their communities through Better at Home and Active Aging, ensuring the security of older adults, and giving them the opportunity to stay active, socially connected, independent, and healthy.
  • Better at Home operates 74 core programs in 100+ communities. The Government of British Columbia funds the program, United Way of the Lower Mainland manages it, and local non-profit organizations provide the services.
  • There were 3,832 new participants to a Better at Home program in 2019/20.
  • 24 designated Better at Home COVID response HUB agencies across B.C. matched local volunteers with seniors who needed help.

Building Healthy Connected Communities – Creating communities where people feel safe, connected, and cared for is part of United Way’s Hi Neighbour initiative. Designed to build stronger communities, whether in schools, community centers, parks, or backyards, the initiatives support children, youth, families, and seniors to make a difference in ways that matter most to them.

  • In 2019/20, United Way embedded community engagement teams in eight neighbourhoods across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, including Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, Cedar Valley in Mission, Clayton Heights in Surrey, Edmonds in Burnaby, Lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver, Sardis in Chilliwack, Sunset in Vancouver, and Willoughby in Langley.
  • 68,100 locals benefitted from projects in their neighbourhoods addressing social isolation and building connections.

United Way’s COVID-19 Relief Efforts

COVID-19 has put many people and families in extremely challenging situations. Those who already face significant barriers, including poverty, homelessness, and social isolation, need even more help during this unprecedented time. Thanks to the support we have seen so far, United Way has been able to pivot and help where it is needed most.

United Way has responded in 3 unique and affective ways:

The COVID-19 Community Relief Fund – Provides urgent support to United Way’s network of community partners across the region. Investing in resources where they are needed, including help for vulnerable and isolated seniors; supporting community partners, so they can continue to do their vital local work; enabling crisis lines and system navigation services to support mental health; and ensuring people have access to life’s essentials.

Local Love Food Hubs – Over 100 have been established around the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley to address one of the biggest challenges in our community during COVID-19, which is getting access to good, nourishing food. With mass layoffs and underemployment, many individuals and families are struggling to make ends meet – leaving kitchen shelves bare. The agencies who serve them and that United Way supports are reaching a critical breaking point. However, the hubs, built in partnerships with community non-profits, are providing vulnerable people with access to food and other essential goods like cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment. Over the past couple months, these hubs have provided groceries, food hampers, prepared meals, and other essential goods at no cost to people in need.

United Way Community Outreach Builders – Community Builders have been embedded in 29 communities throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. They work to identify individuals and families that have been impacted by COVID-19 and need support. Once they have made the connection, they help identify needs and find resources. Whether it is groceries or food hampers, support getting prescriptions filled, phone and/or virtual visits or even walking dogs for health care workers, United Way’s Community Builders were there to help.


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