How Funding Decisions Are Made At United Way

exterior photo of our building 50 S. French Broad Ave Asheville

In addition to helping fuel our volunteer center, NC 2-1-1 information and referral service, and our Community School work, your donations help us make critical investments in agencies and programs throughout Buncombe County. When most people think about United Way, they often think about the agencies we fund through our competitive grants, but we are expanding how we invest in high impact programs and this information should help you understand this better whether you are a donor who is interested in understanding your impact or an agency representative seeking funding. 

Competitive Grants and Contracts

What's the difference? Below is some information that will help you understand the difference between these two important tools we use to invest in our community.



Competitive Grants

  • Provide operational support* for nonprofits that provide a host of services that improve key outcomes in the areas of education, health, and financial stability. IN a major shift in organizational thinking, our Board voted to begin providing operational support to organizations in August 2018. In pivoting from program-specific funding, United Way is aligning our giving practices with the best practice among grant-making foundations. Most importantly, this change will help some organizations that have had to submit multiple grant applications for various programs and services they provide to offset their operational budgets. 


  • Hubs of Service Contracts Funding for organizations that provide specific services in a defined community/communities. These contracts are directly related to our work in local school districts and do/will focus on support for students, their families, and community. Needed services are identified through community needs assessments. 

  • Advocacy In order to address public policies that impact the education, health, and financial stability of our neighbors, we support the work of The Success Equation through an ongoing contract and representation on the leadership team.



Competitive Grants

  • 3 year operational support


  • One and multi-year funding is possible.


Eligibility and Application Process

Competitive Grants

  • We've just completed the first phase of a two-phase grant-making redesign.

    During the 2019-2022 fiscal years, funding is being provided to 31 nonprofits in the form of 3-year contracts. In 2023, this opportunity will look different. Information regarding that exciting new process is forthcoming.


  • Most contracts will be made after we issue a Request For Proposal for a specific service. Similar to the grant-making process, all applications will be reviewed and rated.

    Sometimes there is only one entity that provides this service and in those cases we will negotiate and contract directly with that provider and therefore an RFP will not be issued.

    RFPs will be issued throughout the year, as needed.

If you would like to receive updates and information about our grant funding process, please fill out this form.