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United Way’s role

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Readers respond to question about how to strengthen United Way. 


Let us know what you think.
Click here to join our online discussion on this important issue, or submit a letter to the editor or guest opinion column.


[03.16.04]

Community fundraising umbrella
Fundamentally, what United Ways should do is to set their mission to maximize workplace fundraising for all nonprofits in their communities.

This would set aside United Ways’ penchant to want to monopolize workplace fundraising, and to control who gets to receive employee contributions.

I use the harsh words “monopolize” and “control” because these are the words that best characterize most United Ways across the country.

But to make the community and its nonprofit organizations the focus of workplace fund raising — what a heady and positive change that would be.

I know that United Ways are also now seeking to raise larger and larger quantities of individual major donor dollars. This clearly places it in increased competition with community foundations and larger charities.

Is this desirable? Are United Ways tapping into money that otherwise would be going to local nonprofits?

If so, they should abandon this new fund raising focus. But if not, then they should continue in this effort and, as with workplace fund raising, seek to help community nonprofits maximize their major donor gifts.

United Ways should become the ultimate facilitator, not the greedy 800-pound gorillas they often have been in the past.

Bob Bothwell, principal, Visions Realized, and president emeritus, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Washington, D.C.


Partner with other federations
United Way is a wonderful agency that has helped millions across socio-economic levels for many years.

As our country and the needs of people grow, and as employees demand a greater say in their work/life experience, many have asked for a broader array of charities to support.

We are no longer in a world where there is no competition and philanthropy is no exception. Donors are demanding the choice and employers are responding.

In almost every market, United Way continues to receive the lion’s share of support, even when choice is given.

United Way should partner with other federations and realize that choice means more charitable dollars get to those in need which ultimately is what all are working toward.

Michelle Smith, associate vice president, institutional advancement, Emory University, Atlanta.


United Way serves neediest
As an employee of United Way in Canada, we are taught to educate the community that the research into other nonprofit agencies is done by us in a thorough and conscientious manner.

Putting your money with us ensures that your dollars are given to the neediest and most deserving agencies in your specific community.

We encourage those who wish to designate a portion of their money to go through us, or entrust us with the entire amount to know that their money is spent in the possible manner.

Cassandra Lebel, donor relations manager, United Way of Greater Simcoe County, Barrie, Ontario.


 

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