United Way could be policy leader

To the editor,

Thank you for your excellent editorial on the United Way of Chatham County [“United Way divides“, 06.21.06].

I appreciate hearing your perspective that the United Ways need to educate their donors on the need for agencies to be involved in public policy debates.

I am one of several former public policy directors at the United Way of North Carolina, and I was constantly warned about getting involved too deeply in public policy debates for fear of offending potential or current donors.

The United Way system could be a leader in the nonprofit public policy arena if it began to understand that involvement in policy debates could augment rather than detract from its donor base, as long as they explain to donors that policy change can often eliminate or reduce the need for United Way funds in the first place.

In my opinion, United Ways have always suffered from placing too great an emphasis on simply raising and disbusing money.

Pam Seamans, executive director, North Carolina Alliance for Health, Chapel Hill, N.C.

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