About Us

Our Mission

To improve lives in Otter Tail & Wadena Counties by mobilizing the caring powers in our communities.

Priority Areas

EDUCATION - Helping children and youth achieve their potential by supporting their learning, development and sense of belonging to raise responsible and contributing adults.

INCOME - Promoting financial stability & independence to ensure that basic needs of food, housing, clothing & safety are met.

HEALTH - Improving people's health status through higher levels of positive health and lower levels of disease for overall improved quality of life.

History of Organization

Our organization was established in February 1945 as the Fergus Falls Community Fund. Fergus Falls Community Fund joined United Way World Wide and changed the name of the organization to United Way of Otter Tail County.  United Way of Otter Tail County thus became able to receive contributions made at the workplace and designated to help programs through the United Way Campaign. United Way of Otter Tail County has been serving our community for over 75 years.  On March 1, 2017 United Way of Otter Tail County joined efforts with Wadena County and changed the name to United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties.

United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties is primarily a volunteer-led organization with a mission to meet health and human care needs in our communities through a network of local agencies. Our Organizational Mission Statement is to improve lives in Otter Tail & Wadena Counties by mobilizing the caring powers in our communities. United Way helps people care for one another by providing an efficient fundraising campaign, an effective community fund investment program, a broad range of volunteer opportunities and community-based problem solving initiatives. We are governed by a volunteer Board of Directors with volunteer committees that oversee all major functions and a professional staff that administers the day-to-day activities.

Our Community Investment process includes an annual review of qualifying 501c3 non-profit programs by Community Investment volunteer panels comprised of county wide community members, a Community Investment committee and the United Way Board of Directors to ensure funds are used in the most effective and efficient manner possible. United Way also act as a catalyst for change to launch and participate in community problem-solving initiatives and act as a liaison in the community.

With this time-tested process we have made a measurable impact in our community. To date millions of dollars have been distributed to partner agencies. These agencies provide programs that provide a good education, good health and financial stability in our community.

United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties ensures your donation is well spent. A cross-section of our county's leadership comprises the Board of Directors for United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties. These trained leaders closely screen the agencies and programs receiving funds to make sure your money is well spent. Our volunteers have the expertise to identify the most critical needs in our community and direct funding to agencies and programs that positively impact our community. Your gift gets through to people who really need help.

United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties is accountable and transparent. United Way World Wide standards require a certified public accounting firm audits United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties each year. Copies of link to required filings are posted on our website under the Financials section of "Learn About Us".

United Way serves every community in Otter Tail & Wadena Counties by providing financial and volunteer support to programs which provide a good education, financial stability and good health to all residents in need.

Statement on Equity and Access to Justice

Equity is the foundation of our work, from our engagement with donors to our investment of community resources to our interactions with the public.  We define equity as the presence of justice and fairness within the procedures, processes and distribution of resources by institutions or systems.  We commit to equity as a core value and practice to advance our mission of connecting people, resources and organizations to create a thriving community for everyone.  Our mission compels us to prioritize historically marginalized and systematically excluded people.  It is necessary to focus on race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, as well as other intersectional identities, to end the historical, social and systemic inequities that persist in our counties.

We acknowledge that we can only be successful if we recognize, raise up and support leaders from underrepresented neighborhoods.  United Way is committed to engaging these leaders as partners, donors and volunteers.  Further, we commit to intentionally creating pathways for them to be included in decision-making and leadership roles within our own and other organizations.  We can only eliminate inequity when all individuals reach their fullest human potential.  We maintain that building and sustaining equity in our counties requires an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion that is fully expressed in our organizational culture, values, norms and behaviors and those of our partners.

Racial/Ethnic Equity Resources

The First 5 Steps for Race Equity Champions

Grounding the Case for Change in Your Mission and Values

Leveraging Fundraising, Resource Allocation and Grantmaking & Local Capacity Building to Advance Equity

Leveraging Policy & Advocacy to Advance Equity

Preparing Yourself to Facilitate Racial Equity Work

Communications & Awareness to Advance Equity

Nurture a Diverse, Equity-Minded Workforce

Leveraging Community Engagement and Mobilization to Advance Equity

Nurture a Diverse, Equity-Minded Board

Diversity & Inclusion Statement

At United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties, diversity and inclusion inform every aspect of our work. We understand from experience the best solutions are crafted by diverse perspectives and stakeholders. Diversity is who we are. Our Board of Directors, staff and volunteers come from many walks of life and reflect the many faces that make up our community. Inclusion is essential to what we do. Inclusion creates and strengthens our community. It is at the heart of what it means to Live United and to advance the common good; to be a diverse and inclusive system is fundamental to reducing poverty in Otter Tail & Wadena Counties. We actively seek input and fully engage a broad range of partners to help us develop solutions that will result in long lasting change. Moving forward, we will continue to leverage and build upon the talents, strengths and opportunities available in Otter Tail & Wadena Counties.

Donor Privacy Policy

United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties, (UWOTW) respects the privacy of donors and safeguards the confidentiality of information the donor would reasonably expect to be private. Information learned by any representative of United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties about a donor or a donor’s assets or philanthropic intentions shall be held in strict confidence by the staff, Campaign Cabinet, committees and the Board.
Use and Disclosure of Your Information
By submitting information to us you acknowledge, consent and agree that United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties may access, read, preserve and disclose the personal information you provide to us as a donor, along with your usage history, submitted messages or data and similar information regarding your use of the website in order to: (a) comply with any applicable law, regulation, legal process, or governmental request; (b) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, or technical issues; (c) respond to your requests for customer service; (d) protect the rights, property, or personal safety of United Way of Otter Tail & Wadena Counties its visitors, or the public, (e) where we sell any or all our business assets; or (f) as otherwise set forth herein. With your prior consent, we may also provide your personal information to the agency you have designated as the recipient of your generosity.
UWOTW Will Not Sell or Trade Your Personal Information
We believe you should have control over who receives the personal information you provide to us as a donor (such as your name, address, zip/postal code, e-mail address, telephone number). Therefore, we do not trade, sell or share your personal information with third parties unless they are carrying out business activities, operations or functions on our behalf. Further, we do not send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations.
Remaining Anonymous
UWOTW will honor requests by donors to remain anonymous, have their names removed from mailing lists, or to restrict appeals.
Contact Us
Please feel free to contact us with any questions, comments or complaints about this Donor Privacy Policy or how your information as a donor is handled, or to review or change your information.