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Dialogue on fixing United Way should include funders, government.

To the editor,

[02.24.04] — “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.”

I agree that when any kind of significant event hits a network of service providers, it is a good idea for all the stakeholders to get together to share information and engage in strategic problem-solving.

Your editorial, “Let’s find a way” [Philanthropy Journal, 02.18.04], identifies at least two important issues: the immediate hit in funding that local nonprofits will take this year, and the challenges facing United Way in the current environment.

The discussion group you suggest would appropriately be broadened to include local governments and foundations. Not only do they fund the same organizations the United Way funds, but they are likely to be impacted indirectly by United Way cuts.

When nonprofits are forced to cut back their services, both governments and foundations are likely to receive more and increased requests for funding, as are individual and corporate donors.

Governments, in particular, are also likely to experience the indirect impact of having to cope with the absence of vital nonprofit services.

By all means, let’s encourage the community to have this conversation, but let’s also invite all the players who fund the same nonprofits and serve the same clients.

Our project encourages this type of community problem-solving. Let us know if we can help.

I invite you to check out the resources available through our website: www.nonprofit-gov.unc.edu or www.publicintersection.unc.edu.

Margaret Henderson, associate director, The Public Intersection Project, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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