"The United Way is helping individuals and families meet immediate basic needs and provides education, training and resources to help them become financially stable for the long run. Here are a few more ways United Way helps:

Promoting financial independence
It can be hard to see any light at the end of the debt and poverty tunnel. United Way and its partner agencies are empowering individuals and families by helping them bank, save, budget and plan for the future. We also provide Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) for many at-risk populations, such as youth aging out of foster care, women in transitional housing and low-income workers, where they receive help in saving for their future.

Getting families out of poverty
Poverty will touch the majority of Americans at some point during their lives, even if only for a few months. The good news is that poverty is not a fixed state. Roughly half of those who reach the poverty level will get out of it a year later. United Way funds partner agencies that are committed to helping families overcome the challenges of poverty by providing educational opportunities, job training, financial independence education and basic needs support.

Providing emergency needs
Everyone deserves food and a safe place to sleep. These basic needs are consistently the top reasons why people call United Way 2-1-1 for help. In fact, 60% of all calls in 2012 to the helpline were for basic needs. United Way funds much of the area’s basic needs assistance and helps put callers in contact with agencies that can offer this assistance.

Addressing the whole issue
Basic needs aren’t so basic. It’s important to explore the underlying causes: why a person needs food, shelter and clothing assistance in the first place. Whether it’s due to mental illness, a family crisis, unemployment, or a history of poverty, the system of agencies United Way supports is there to help the whole person and break the cycle of poverty."

Link to article - http://www.stl.unitedway.org/2014/05/basic-needs-what-you-cant-live-without/

The United Way knows what they do, however this article explains why  they do. A great look into the careful planning and education lengths they go to to provide top quality aid to those in need.