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 in the Lower Mainland. It relies on donations from individuals, work places, 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 is an organization committed to preventing social problems, such as poverty, and making a measureable difference in our community. The United Way is the only organization funding approximately 150 social service agencies to deliver more than 300 prevention-based programs for vulnerable people throughout the region. The United Way is more than a funder, United Way knows how to prevent poverty, bullying and social isolation by; undertaking research to get to the root cause of our community’s greatest challenges; strengthening nonprofit organizations, enabling them to deliver life-changing programs; multiplying our impact by working in partnership; raising our voice to influence public attitudes, systems and policy; and evaluating 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 – 15 cents for each dollar raised (well below the Canadian average of 26 cents). 85 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to over 340 United Way supported programs and services. There are several reasons for this lower than average fundraising cost and the greatest is the existence of the Endowment Fund. This fund was established in 1943 with the bequest of one generous donor. That gift was then matched by nine additional donors creating a legacy that lives on today. Since then hundreds of people have contributed annually to the Fund that now exceeds $31.6 million.

The Endowment Fund helps offset already low fundraising costs and ensures 85 cents of every donated dollar is used to support programs in our community. United Way is also able to keep costs low thanks to generous sponsors of community events and materials.

Where does my money go?

It is invested in building a healthy, caring and inclusive community because the United Way knows how to prevent poverty, bullying and social isolation. Your donation helps the United Way break the cycle of poverty, endured by one in six people in Metro Vancouver living in poverty. It helps older children make the right life choices and end destructive behaviours, such as bullying. And it enables seniors to age with dignity and to live in their own homes, surrounded by friends, families and neighbours. In addition, these dollars will support the BC 211 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.

United Way of the Lower Mainland funds approximately 200 non profit social service agencies that deliver more than 340 prevention-based programs for vulnerable people throughout the Lower Mainland.

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. 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 stronger.

How are people helped by United Way?

Poverty to Possibility – When you give directly to United Way, you are helping people get the food they need. Not only that, you are helping them learn how to find or grow healthy, affordable food and learn about good nutrition. Poverty is a complicated issue – but if you can make sure that people have the basics, then they have the chance to focus on other things and plan to make a better life for themselves.

  • UWLM invested in 22 agencies focused on helping people where they need it most.
  • More than 1.4 million nutritious meals and snacks were served to vulnerable people across the Lower Mainland.

All that Kids Can Be – When you give directly to United Way of the Lower Mainland, you help gives kids the boost they need to succeed in life. Whether it’s making sure they are ready to succeed by the time they reach school, that they are fed so that they can focus on their studies instead of their grumbling tummies, or that they learn life skills and benefit from positive mentors, we help kids reach their full potential.

  • UWLM supported 50 agencies focused on creating opportunities for kids.
  • The United Way supported more than 1,600 after-school programs in the Lower Mainland helping more than 130,000 children with academic support, learning about anti-bullying, and improving their social skills and physical health.
  • Close to 4,700 mentors across the Lower Mainland helped children and their families grow their confidence.
  • 38,000 counselling sessions were given to help children overcome challenges in school, at home and with their friends.
  • United Way funds 6 coordinators who work at community school sites in Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Surrey and New Westminster to help kids be all that they can be. In 2016, the community school initiative will expand to Maple Ridge

Strong Communities – We’re lucky to live here. But we need to look after each other. When you give directly to United Way of the Lower Mainland, you are helping build strong communities, communities where people feel connected and supported. We help seniors live independently; fund bc211, a free telephone helpline; and support communities to develop public policy that promotes positive change and pushes improvements forward.

  • UWLM supported almost 100 agencies focused on building strong communities.
  • Nearly 64,000 seniors across the province accessed resources and services allowing them to stay connected to their communities. This includes more than 6,000 seniors who are enrolled in the Better at Home program.
  • bc211 connected 54,000 British Columbians with the help that they needed across a broad spectrum of social and health issues. In 2016-2017, United Ways in BC are working to expand the help service across the province.
  • We updated the Metro Vancouver Family & Friend Caregivers Information and Resources Handbook. This handbook supplies information about topics seniors’ caregivers struggle with most including housing, health care and the law. 10,000 copies were printed last year.



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