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United Ways regroup – New plan boosts small nonprofits

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Some United Way affiliates, which once channeled billions of dollars into mainstream charities, is shifting its focus to community-based organizations that directly attack social problems, the Associated Press reports.

Some United Way affiliates have begun to fund local groups that work to reduce crime and improve health and education in poor, ethnic neighborhoods, the Associated Press says.

The focus shift reflects the demand by today’s donors to see tangible results in their own communities, AP says.

“We realized we weren’t able to be responsive to the changing issues in our communities because we were locked into giving money to certain agencies,” Sheila Hill-Fajors, president of the United Way of the Bay Area, told AP.

The new approach has brought a windfall to some small activist organizations in minority neighborhoods. In Los Angeles, for example, $4 million in funds were taken from traditional recipients and given to new, community-based nonprofits, AP says.

The funding shift has created a crisis for some large nonprofits. The Los Angeles chapter of the American Cancer Society, for example, will lose about $700,000 – or one-tenth of its annual budget, AP says.

Each of the 1,400 local United Way organizations is a separate, independent, locally governed organization that makes its own decisions about priorities and funding.

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