Nonprofit Highlight: United Way of Salt Lake

Introduction: The United Way of Salt Lake (UWSL) has been serving the community for over 100 years.  Founded in 1905, UWSL’s mission is to build powerful partnerships that achieve lasting social change.  More than a fundraiser, UWSL partners with hundreds of businesses, schools, and community partners to address poverty, poor health, and education challenges in the community.

History: In 1887, the first United Way was organized in Denver, Colorado by two ministers and a rabbi as a way to collect funds for local health and welfare agencies. Today, the United States has around 1,100 United Way chapters. Amazingly, Utah has eight chapters focused on separate regions of the State. The typical model for United Way chapters has been to gather funds and then to make grants to other charities that are addressing challenges in the local community. The United Way of Salt Lake has been changing its strategy over the past several years and has been focusing more on directly tackling issues in the community to achieve lasting change with the help of its many partners.

Impact: One great resource that the United Way of Salt Lake provides is the 2-1-1 assistance line. This is a one-stop shop for health and human services for those in need. Someone can call, text, visit an online site, and be referred to an organization in the community that can help them with housing needs, legal help, or other services.  People can use this resource both to ask for help and to refer people who need help.  People are taking advantage of this service as UWSL reports that there were 55,370 2-1-1 calls, chats, emails, and texts and 81,411 referrals last year.

Recognition and Financial Accountability: The United Way of Salt Lake has a solid reputation.  It earned a Silver Transparency 2024 rating from Candid by GuideStar and was given a 100% and 4-Star rating by Charity Navigator (a large increase over the prior year). It met 20 out of 20 of the Standards for Charity Accountability by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.  UWSL practices transparency by sharing over 10 years’ worth of Forms 990 and audited financial statements on its website, as well as many of its major policies and official documents.

Financial Insights: Looking at the June 30, 2023, audited financial statements, we can see that UWSL has about $28.9 million in total assets.  This includes $6.8 million in cash and $13.3 million in investments, so it has a some liquid financial cushion.   UWSL’s $15.3 million of annual revenues were primarily sourced from individual contributions ($7.2 million), foundations and private grants ($4.6 million), and government grants ($1.9 million). Of its $15.6 million in total expenditures, about $12.4 million was spent on its programs and about $3.2 million was spent on management and general or fundraising. It has around 126 employees and is growing. 

As an auditor at Tanner LLC, I’ve had the chance to be very involved in the nonprofit sector and I am passionate about the world of charities, nonprofits, and philanthropy.