United Way Crisis and Recovery Fund FAQ

What is the Crisis and Recovery Fund?

The United Way Crisis and Recovery Fund is a special pool of dollars, raised separately from United Way’s day-to-day work, which ensures we are prepared to act when our community needs us most.

While United Way for Southeastern Michigan strives every day to meet the needs of families in our region, when our community faces a crisis, we must be able to immediately respond to significant spikes in demand for food, shelter and access to emergency services.

Why is United Way engaged in crisis response?

With our vast network of partners — from government officials to nonprofit service providers, to community churches and neighborhood organizations — we are uniquely situated to quickly mobilize resources to ensure people get the support they need during a crisis.

What will this money be used for?

The Crisis and Recovery funds will be used to address immediate and long-term needs of individuals and families when disaster strikes in our region as well as to support the efforts of front-line nonprofits like shelters and food pantries that see a spike in demand during times of crisis. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Helping individuals navigate resources, legal documents and other support systems.
  • Supporting front-line agencies to ensure they can handle the rise in requests for assistance from families facing homelessness, loss of jobs and transportation and other related struggles.
  • Helping connect families with cleanup and remediation services.
  • Supporting staffing and infrastructure necessary to meet community intake needs and disperse grant funding.
  • Providing direct financial assistance to individuals and families through microgrants.

Is this contribution part of my annual United Way donation?

United Way for Southeastern Michigan relies on your generous support to maintain essential programs and initiatives designed to meet ongoing needs in our community. Your annual donation provides the necessary funding to drive our impact work every day as we strive to build a more equitable community where all households are financially stable and every child can thrive

But when crisis strikes — whether it’s a global pandemic or localized flooding — need increases exponentially, well beyond planned budgets and existing resources. We are seeking donations to the Crisis and Recovery Fund in addition to traditional annual giving to help us ensure that resources are always available to meet unexpected needs without having to pull funding away from other important programs.

Are government dollars available to meet needs in times of crisis?

It takes the coordinated support of state and federal agencies and lawmakers, alongside nonprofits like United Way, to keep every family safe and supported.

State and federal disaster relief funds and supports are critical to helping our community recover from a crisis. However, the needs of families and front-line nonprofits that serve them are often more urgent and greater than these funds cover — like emergency food and shelter; ensuring people have transportation to get to work, school or the doctor; and necessities like heat, electricity and clean water.

United Way received a $25 million contribution from MacKenzie Scott. Shouldn’t that meet this need?

A portion of this gift will go to support the Crisis and Recovery Fund. However, we want to make sure that this impactful gift is utilized in a way that meets both the short-term and long-term needs of our community. As such, United Way is investing the $25 million donated by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in a variety of initiatives to support immediate needs driven by the pandemic and its economic impact, as well as address the systemic inequities exposed and deepened by the crisis.

Will every dollar raised go toward crisis relief?

Yes, all funds raised will go directly toward crisis relief. Any dollars remaining once the current crisis has been addressed will stay in United Way’s Crisis and Recovery Fund to ensure our ability to activate quickly when future disasters or spikes in need arise.