Let’s find a way

Fixing United Way requires community conversation.

By Barbara Goodmon

[02.18.04] — The time has come for the community to take a hard and honest look at United Way.

The 2003 Community Care Fund campaign at Triangle United Way has come in $2 million short of its goal.

United Way’s member agencies, many of them grassroots organizations that operate with limited staff, fill gaps in services that otherwise would not be available in our community.

They have been able to do what they do in large part because of United Way funding.

And now, they are in serious jeopardy.

United Way was originally organized to assure donors their contributions would be used appropriately, and to assure agencies they would be able to serve an otherwise underserved population.

But United Way has lost its way, and now makes it harder for its member agencies to make ends meet.

For several years, United Way agencies have taken big cuts in United Way funding, and it looks like they will again this year, perhaps as much as 10 percent to 15 percent.

To help Triangle United Way find its way home to its original mission, we need a heart-to-heart community conversation.

Corporate and nonprofit leaders, and individual donors, need to get together and talk about the role United Way should play to make sure our community gives agencies the support they need to meet the growing demand for health and human services.

We all need to pitch in to help United Way find the best way to fill the service gaps in our community.

Let’s fix it together.

Barbara Goodmon is president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal.

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