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. 


  • 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 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 will be available only to 501c3 organizations and public agencies that are currently receiving grant funding. In 2023, this opportunity will be revamped again and adjustments made accordingly.


  • Most contracts will be made after we issue an RFP 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.


Decision Making Body

Competitive Grants

  • Volunteers, many of whom are experts in their field, along with United Way staff, evaluate applications and progress/final reports from organizations. 


  • Same as grants, with additional input from key school partners and their resource team. 



Competitive Grants

  • Over the course of the three-year funding cycle, and at the end of the term, grantees will submit reports that highlight the outcomes that they’ve been able to achieve as a result of the grant dollars we’ve awarded. 


  • Measurements will be determined as a part of the RFP and contractual processes. Just like those receiving three-year grants, those receiving contracts will submit reports that highlight the outcomes that they’ve been able to achieve as a result of the dollars awarded.


*Operational support was approved by our board in August 2018. This is a shift from program specific funding and is considered a best practice among grant making foundations. This will help some organizations who, in the past, had to submit multiple grant applications for the various programs and services they provide.