United Way divides

By Todd Cohen

In ending a Latino agency’s funding, a local United Way in North Carolina has taken the wrong way.

United Way of Chatham County says it cut funds for El Vínculo Hispano, or The Hispanic Liaison, because it spends too much on overhead.

But the agency, citing a United Way email to a supporter, says United way is retaliating against its role in demonstrations to promote Latino immigrants’ rights.

Either way, United Way messed up.

If the agency’s overhead costs are too high, United Way should help it improve its operating efficiency.

And if it fears their anger over the agency’s civic activism, United Way should educate its donors about the need for charities to help shape public policy.

Instead of pandering to them, local United Ways must help donors understand critical community needs.

In North Carolina, a state with the fastest-growing Latino population in the U.S., local United Ways can lead by connecting people, not dividing them.

That means supporting groups that serve Latinos and engage them in civic life, and providing common ground for all residents, old and new, to work together.

If United Way cannot handle that job, it is in the wrong business.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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