Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Not a popular topic

One more brief post on United Way, and I’ll get off this horse.

First of all, I don’t think anybody appreciates being told how much they “ought” to give to any charity. That’s probably why the United Ways dropped the idea of “fair share” giving. I always tell employees where I work that giving is a personal decision. I will never pressure them to give at all, much less a certain amount!

I’ve been personally involved in our local United Way in one way or another for most of the past 20 years. I’ve served on the board of directors, in various panel positions including chair, and was even the organization’s treasurer for three years.

I’d encourage anyone with any curiosity and a little free time to volunteer to serve on an allocations panel or your local United Way.

You see, each locality (city, county, etc.) has its own local United Way board. This group sets the goals and approves the agencies that will receive funding. But the Allocations Panels (consisting of 3-6 or so volunteers) actually go visit the agencies, review their budgets, determine who they serve and what needs they meet. The panel recommends how much funding each agency should get.

So the control is maintained by LOCAL people, not outsiders. And over 90% of every United Way dollar collected is actually allocated (given) to the agencies that meet the community needs. Volunteers do most of the work, so overhead is about the lowest of any “charitable giving” programs out there.

Plus, there’s annual review and oversight to make sure the agencies aren’t wasting their money. If the allocations panel feels United Way money is being wasted, they simply won’t allocate funds to that agency.

So, if you want to help but don’t have a particular favorite local agency you want to give directly to, use your local United Way.

And now, back to our regular programming…


kenju said...

Very good points, John; I agree.

Anonymous said...

I try to give financially whenever I am able but giving of one's time as a volunteer is something I have been meaning to do but never gotten around to it.