United Way of Southwest Virginia Earns GuideStar’s Highest Seal of Transparency and Charity Navigator’s 4-Star Ranking

Platinum Seal and 4-Star Ranking Allows Donors to Focus on Progress and Results

Abingdon, Virginia (October 31, 2019) – United Way of Southwest Virginia earned a 2019 Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, the world’s largest source for nonprofit information, as well as a 4-Star Ranking from Charity Navigator, a non-profit evaluation source. By sharing results that highlight progress United Way of Southwest Virginia is making toward its mission, the organization is helping donors move beyond simplistic ways of nonprofit evaluation such as overhead ratios.

In order to receive a 4-star Charity Navigator rating, United Way of Southwest Virginia has taken the correct steps to show donors that they are not only transparent, but demonstrate financial accountability.

According to Michael Thatcher, president and ceo of Charity Navigator, “Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support the organization.”

In order to become one of only 6,000 nonprofit organizations across the world to reach the GuideStar Platinum level, United Way of Southwest Virginia added extensive information to its GuideStar Nonprofit Profile. By taking the time to provide this information, United Way of Southwest Virginia has again demonstrated its commitment to transparency and to giving donors and funders meaningful data to evaluate its performance.

The metrics United Way of Southwest Virginia chose to share in order to receive these high-level ranks of transparency and accountability include the estimated dollar value of food donations in the Backpacks Unite program, which provides nutritious weekend meals to at-risk students throughout the region. Research shows that children who come to school hungry often miss out on valuable classroom learning opportunities because they are unable to concentrate. Backpacks Unite ensures that students come to school on Monday ready to learn and succeed by serving over 1,000 students across the region who are at risk of going hungry.

The organization is also tracking the total number of training events held, including the Childcare Start-Up Assistance Project, which provides professional development to those who work with young children in childcare and pre-school settings. The project provides one-on-one coaching and mentoring to individuals who wish to start their own family day home or child care center in counties that have little to no existing licensed care. By receiving a license to operate a family day home, individuals become promoted as available care options in the Virginia DSS Childcare Database.

Within GuideStar, United Way of Southwest Virginia is also sharing the number of regional conference attendees, including the most recent 2019 Rural Summit for Childhood Success, which convened more than 500 individuals from across the commonwealth in joining forces to address the impact that addiction, outmigration and poverty is having on rural areas of Virginia. The Rural Summit for Childhood Success also allowed attendees across the state to receive in-depth information on how to become a trauma-informed community network.

Travis Staton, president and ceo at United Way of Southwest Virginia, stated, “We are excited to easily share a wealth of up-to-date organizational metrics with our community partners. We believe that the Platinum Seal of Transparency and Charity Navigator’s 4-Star Ranking will enhance our efforts with our partners. These honors ultimately allow United Way of Southwest Virginia to demonstrate the success of our cradle to career continuum with our business partners, grantmakers, donors, and the media.


United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life.  Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change.  With a footprint that covers nearly 20% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, Norton, and Radford.


The GuideStar database contains a profile for every tax-exempt nonprofit registered with the IRS. GuideStar encourages every nonprofit to claim and update its profile at no cost to the organization. Updating allows nonprofits to share a wealth of up-to-date information with more than 10 million people who visit GuideStar to learn more about nonprofit organizations each year. Updating also allows nonprofits to share information with the more than 200 philanthropic websites that are powered by GuideStar data.

GuideStar, guidestar.org, is the world’s largest source for nonprofit information, connecting people and organizations with data on 2.7 million current and formerly IRS-recognized nonprofits. Each year, more than 10 million people, including donors, nonprofit leaders, government officials, academic researchers, and the media use GuideStar data to make intelligent decisions about the social sector. GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles are populated with information directly from nonprofits, the IRS, and other partners in the nonprofit sector. The Seal Levels, acknowledged as symbols of transparency in the nonprofit sector, are earned by nonprofits providing specific information to its profile.


Charity Navigator, www.charitynavigator.org, is the largest charity evaluator in America and its website attracts more visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of more than 8,000 charities. Charity Navigator accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations, nor does it charge the public for this trusted data. As a result, Charity Navigator, a 501 (c) (3) public charity itself, depends on support from individuals, corporations and foundations that believe it provides a much-needed service to America’s charitable givers. Charity Navigator, can be reached directly by telephone at (201) 818-1288, or by mail at 139 Harristown Road, Suite 101, Glen Rock, N.J., 07452.