Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) | United Way of Northern California
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)




What is United Way?

United Way is the world’s largest philanthropic network, raising around $5 billion per year. Its global mission is to fight for the education, income and health of all community residents. United Way Worldwide (UWW), headquarters for the movement, is based in Alexandria, VA. UWW provides services and sets standards of operational excellence for local United Ways. UWW also works on broad national and international humanitarian issues.

United Way of Northern California (UWNC) is one of approximately 1,200 local United Ways in the United States. Another 600 local United Ways operate in more than 40 other countries. Each local United Way operates autonomously; all decisions about how money is raised and spent in each community are made by the local board of directors.

What does United Way of Northern California do?

UWNC’s principal role is to support the efforts of civic and non-profit agencies doing good work in the areas of education, income and health. We do so by:

  • Fundraising on behalf of the non-profit sector.
  • Awarding grants to non-profit agencies.
  • Operating 2-1-1 in Shasta and Tehama counties, and supporting the work of Help Central Inc., which operates 2-1-1 in Butte County. 2-1-1 is the dialing code for a social services helpline available for free 24-7-365. The service also is available online at for Shasta and Tehama counties, and for Butte County.
  • Operating Volunteer NorCal, a website that matches volunteers to non-profit agencies.
  • Leading Collective Impact initiatives that bring business, government, non-profits and faith organizations together to tackle complex community issues.

Where does United Way of Northern California operate?

UWNC serves nine counties: Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity. We are based in Redding, the region’s largest city, located in Shasta County.

Who runs United Way of Northern California?

UWNC is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The current chair is Jill Letendre, District Manager for U.S. Bank. Larry Olmstead, president & CEO, leads staff and reports to the Board. 


How can I donate to United Way of Northern California?

You can…

  • Click HERE to electronically give a one-time donation using your credit/debit card or PayPal account.
  • Click HERE to electronically give a recurring donation using your credit/debit card.
  • Using your cellular phone, text UWNC to 41444 to make a one-time or recurring donation with a credit/debit card.
  • Join our WORKPLACE GIVING campaign if offered by your employer. Donate through payroll deduction.
  • Drop off a check at our office. We are at 2280 Benton Drive, Building B, Redding. Office hours are 9 am – 5 pm on weekdays.

Please call us at 530-241-7521 if you have questions or need more information.

How are donations spent?

Most money is sent out to the community through grants to non-profit agencies and to operate the 2-1-1 helpline. United Way runs a lean operation, with a permanent staff of four to six, plus a few part-time contractors. Overhead is kept to 15-20 percent; 25-35 percent is considered an acceptable norm in the non-profit arena.

Will my donations help fund United Way operations outside Northern California?

No. Every dollar raised by UWNC is spent in our home region, unless a donor directs otherwise.

Why should I donate to United Way when I can give directly to the charity of my choice?

United Way encourages you to give as your conscience dictates. By giving to UWNC, you are assured that the money will be distributed locally, and to organizations that have been vetted carefully by our staff and our volunteer Community Impact Committee.  

Are my donations tax-deductible?

Yes, to the extent allowed by law. UWNC is registered as a 501 (c)(3) charitable entity by the Internal Revenue Service.

If I donate, are my personal details and financial information secure?

Absolutely. Unless compelled by law, we will not share your information with anyone – United Way Worldwide, other United Ways, other organizations – anyone. We will not sell lists of names to marketing vendors or anyone else. Our files are kept secure internally under strict protocols.

Mission and Programs

What is 2-1-1?

2-1-1 is designated by the Federal Communications Commission as the three-digit dialing code for health and human services information and referrals. United Way operates 2-1-1 NorCal, which provides this service in Shasta and Tehama counties. 2-1-1 is also available in Butte County, where it is operated by Help Central Inc.

Callers reach live specialists who guide them to information about any health and human service need. Most calls involve basic needs – food, shelter, utility bills and rent assistance. Mental health, alcohol and drug counseling and domestic violence also are frequent topics.

Call specialists can quickly pinpoint where to get help, saving callers time and cutting through red tape.  

2-1-1 specialists take calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Calls are free, confidential and can be handled in any language. Information also is available online at or, in Butte County, at

What is Collective Impact?

Collective Impact is a structured approach to bringing different agencies, organizations and individuals together to work on a deeply entrenched, complex community issue, based on the understanding that no one entity can solve most community problems. The concept was introduced in 2011 in a Stanford Social Innovation Review article written by John Kania and Mark Kramer, who identified five key “conditions” for organizations involved in a successful Collective Impact initiative:

  • Common agenda
  • Common progress measures
  • Mutually reinforcing activities
  • Communications
  • Backbone organizations that provide administration, coordination and support

United Way has endorsed and implemented Collective Impact as a means of driving change. As an example, UWNC has been the backbone agency for the Prosperity Initiative, a Shasta County-based project aimed at breaking cycles of poverty.

How does UWNC choose which agencies to support financially?

Our volunteer Board of Directors approves grant disbursements, based on recommendations from the Community Impact Committee, which is composed of volunteers from across different sectors who are highly respected for their community involvement. Preference is given to organizations offering programs that are aligned with education, income and health, and other stated priorities of UWNC. Organizations must match other criteria, including possessing a track record of successful program implementation.

How does my organization apply for a grant?

An announcement on the application process is generally released in February of each year. Applications are due in March, and final selections are announced upon approval of the Board of Directors in June. Funds are disbursed beginning the following January. Details are disseminated broadly to the non-profit sector prior to the solicitation of applications. If you have questions or need more information, contact Norma Mosqueda, Community Impact Director, at 530-241-7521,

Does United Way offer volunteer opportunities?

Generally, three types of volunteer activities are available:

  1. Volunteer leadership – service on our Board of Directors or a Board committee such as Community Impact, Finance, Governance or Campaign (fundraising). If you are interested, contact Larry Olmstead,
  2. Outreach – attending events and spreading the word about the mission of United Way and/or 2-1-1. Contact Norma Mosqueda,
  3. Events, including Day of Action and other community activities. Contact Larry or Norma.

For more information about volunteer opportunities visit


Financial Documents

Tax ID: 94-1251675