When I helped run our Boy Scout troop when I was much younger, I learned some things about the United Way. In order to become eligible to receive a donation, you have to sign your organization up to volunteer for the United Way. In our case, we had to help run one of their call centers for I think three or four weekends. THEN, after you become eligible, you then have to buy their merch -- things like United Way flags, shirts, etc to promote them. Finally, the donation will usually come at an awards dinner -- which a few people from your org have to attend (and pay for).
They gave us a check for $1,200 for a new trailer. Not counting volunteer time, the troop ended up paying about $1,000 in fees, merch and expenses to participate. Sure, next year it would have been better but to tie up 8 guys for 4 weekends for $200, there were much better ways to get donations or raise money (selling popcorn would usually net us about $8,000 and selling Christmas Trees would net us closer to $10,000).