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Old 08-17-2011, 12:08 PM
brendon_small brendon_small is offline
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About United Way

So, after reading this IMHO thread, I understand there are some strong feelings about the United Way. I have no idea what United Way does, but someone I know has become involved with the local one and so far that has been all I've heard about for the past few weeks. I honestly figure this board is the best place to learn about UW, and why the sound so evil in the thread linked earlier in this post. Of course, I tried the generic stuff (googling and looking at their site and a few other opinions) but I want some more information if possible (preferably from those that feel strongly one way or another, but I don't want a GD thread, just what do they do and are they evil).

Brendon Small

ETA: This may be better suited for IMHO. Sorry Mods. If it is, move it please!

Last edited by brendon_small; 08-17-2011 at 12:08 PM. Reason: See ETA at bottom
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:16 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Keeping this as factual as possible: They're a clearinghouse for charities. They get folks to give them money (often in group contexts, like getting business drives with set goals), and then they pass on that money to the actual charities themselves, who do various good works. United Way doesn't engage in any charity themselves; they're just a middleman. And they take out a very significant chunk of the money they collect to cover their overhead, in addition to the overhead of the charities they give to. The only differences between giving to United Way and giving directly to charities you like are, first, that it's less efficient, second, you don't have any control over where your money actually goes, and third, you're likely to have a manager at work who's pressuring you strongly to give to the office United Way fund.
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:23 PM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The only differences between giving to United Way and giving directly to charities you like are, first, that it's less efficient, second, you don't have any control over where your money actually goes, and third, you're likely to have a manager at work who's pressuring you strongly to give to the office United Way fund.
The latter is really about the workplace rather than UW itself.

As for where the money goes, that's not true. You can direct your contribution to a specific charity or a group of charities, at least in the cities where I've worked.
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:24 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is online now
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The United Way is a fundraising organization for local charities. Most nonprofit organizations are eligible to join. The money goes to the organizations; administration costs are small, so a larger percent of your donated money goes to them than for other fundraisers. It allows small nonprofits to raise funds more easily than having to do it independently.

If not specified, the United Way funds are divided up relatively evenly among the organizations, but there are ways to specify the funds going to particular charities or types of charities, and not to other charities. It also allows you to have your donation taken out of your paycheck over several pay periods.

The evil comes in when it becomes a contest to raise the most money, usually within a corporation. The United Way is usually not behind that, but the United Way volunteer for your company can become very gung ho and annoying, insisting they get 100% participation or that they donate a set amount.

That hasn't happened in the places I've worked. There'd be a reminder or two, but no one comes in saying, "I see you haven't donated, you bad person." However, there are places where a lot of pressure is put on donors. I don't think the United Way condones this sort of thing, but it still happens.
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:28 PM
brendon_small brendon_small is offline
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Thanks Chronos. That honestly sums up what I thought was going on, but had no real confirmation of. Truth is, if I was going to give to charity, it would be a specific one, but the idea of a clearinghouse seems like a way for a lot of people to make money off of other people's charitable donations to me. Since you mentioned the manager at work and the business drives, it is starting to make more sense. I work for a non-profit charitable organization, but we don't really rely on donations. I had always heard of the United Way, but had no idea up to this point what they did.

Also, since the other responses came as I was typing, it seems that maybe the United Way isn't so evil, but the workplaces or specific volunteers may be, right?

Last edited by brendon_small; 08-17-2011 at 12:30 PM. Reason: simulpost...
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:38 PM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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I also want to add that the % taken off the top varies from city to city (each local UW is largely independent). A website like Charity Navigator can show you what percentage of their money goes to services and how that compares to other charities in your area. Here's the UW of Cincinnati, for example, which spends 4.0% on administrative expenses, compared to 14.3% for the Cincinnati SPCA.
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:39 PM
thelabdude thelabdude is offline
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I have mixed feelings about the United Way. There is no doubt about the huge sums of money they have raised nearly all of which has gone to worthy causes. However, like everything else now, they have become politicized, politically correct and agenda driven. The other thing is that what worked well in the past, industrial payroll deductions and massive pressure to take part has declined along with our industrial base. I am not what the solution to that is. But then, unlike the UW national president, I am not being paid over 7 million dollars to lead the organization. They need new ideas and their highly paid leaders aren't providing them.
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:42 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Originally Posted by anson2995 View Post
As for where the money goes, that's not true. You can direct your contribution to a specific charity or a group of charities, at least in the cities where I've worked.
You can tell them to do this, but if the particular charity is pledged more money than they were budgeted to receive from UW, they will not get any extra. One cite.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 08-17-2011 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:46 PM
brendon_small brendon_small is offline
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Originally Posted by anson2995 View Post
I also want to add that the % taken off the top varies from city to city (each local UW is largely independent). A website like Charity Navigator can show you what percentage of their money goes to services and how that compares to other charities in your area. Here's the UW of Cincinnati, for example, which spends 4.0% on administrative expenses, compared to 14.3% for the Cincinnati SPCA.
This is awesome. It actually answers exactly what I was looking at for several other things, and I really appreciate it. Also, I didn't realize that the UWs were independent. Ours isn't on there, but it is a local organization probably connected to another one in a larger area. We are in some of the least populated parts of Ohio, so it makes sense for us to connect with others with more resources. Thanks for the great responses everyone. This is one of the reasons I'm thankful for this board.

Brendon
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:49 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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It's not the United Way itself that is the problem for most people. It's the pressure in the workplace, sometimes including veiled or not so veiled threats to performance evaluations (i.e., bonuses and raises) if you don't kick in.

Of course the UW contributes to this by trying getting local companies/CEOs into a financial penis measuring contest. They try to outperform each other for golf course bragging rights, and punish their employees in the process.
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Old 08-17-2011, 01:06 PM
PhiloVance PhiloVance is offline
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At our company there used to be lots of pressure to GIVE. Not sure if it was from UW or the company but probably both as it benefited both. The preliminary sign-up form that they sent around each year had no way to opt out, but only to increase your deduction and it was printed by UW. Oh, you had to sign the form anyway whether you 'increased' or not. Proof that you were a scum, or a good guy.

This is all in the past, of course, as UW got the boot 10 or 15 years ago as more and more people decided that they wanted to decrease or eliminate their deduction. My co-worker had contributed in the past and so could not opt-out, so he had to take his case to the boss and I think that started the ball rolling to get UW out of our company.

I'm not sure of the year but I do remember an incident at the national level in which the head of UW (nationally) took his girlfriend on a trip to Europe and paid for it with UW funds. I think that trigged my co-worker's opting out.

UW may not be scum, but I see no point in using a middle man when you can give direct with no middle man. I have a few national charities that I give to and mail them checks directly, also I have my own Church and some local charities that I give to directly...no middle man. UW never really made sense to me.

Funny, we now have an annual food drive at Chrismas time for the local Food Bank, I think in place of the old UW drive. We have competition in that and divide into four or so groups to compete with each other. The group with the least has do some silly thing such as dress up as Santa Claus and sing Christmas Carols to the 0ther groups. Anyway, most people give to that!
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Old 08-17-2011, 01:17 PM
redtail23 redtail23 is offline
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UW decides how much $$ each charity gets. If you direct your donation to a particular charity, UW just decreases the other money allocated to them.

Just write a check and mail it to the charity. They'll get all of the money (instead of a chunk going to UW) and they'll still get the UW money too.

Yes, some UW chapters are more effective than others. But they still take a chunk out of the donation. Admittedly, not as much of a chunk as some of the scam artists that totally bilk the charity (like take 80% of the donations for "overhead").

And there have been multiple scandals of various sorts surrounding the UW over the past several decades.

I will admit that my biggest gripe with them is the workplace donations. As far as UW "not condoning" workplace pressure - yeah, right. It just somehow has spontaneously happened across the country at gazillions of workplaces for several decades. But UW doesn't encourage it, oh no.
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Old 08-17-2011, 01:25 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Originally Posted by anson2995 View Post
The latter is really about the workplace rather than UW itself.

As for where the money goes, that's not true. You can direct your contribution to a specific charity or a group of charities, at least in the cities where I've worked.
This is one of those oft-repeated phrases that's simply not true. It's certainly what United Way says, but they're a bunch of lying jerkasses.

What United Way is counting on is that most people don't realize that money is fungible.

If there were 10 charities and 100 people donating $10 each, each charity would get $100, right? (We're ignoring size of the charitable organization, just to simplify).

Let's say 10 people say "Donate my money to charity A", you'd think that Charity A would get an extra $100, and all the other charities would get $90 each, right? Wrong. Because money is fungible, they lower everyone else's contribution to Charity A so they still all end up with $100.
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Old 08-17-2011, 01:40 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Because each United Way is independent, there are as many operating procedures as there are organizations. Asking whether they are good or evil is the same as asking whether the city or country governments in each of those places are good or evil. You'll get both answers, even for the same cities, and those answers might reverse over time. Another parallel is to the Red Cross, which once had a sterling reputation but recently has run into a string of scandals and cries of inefficiencies.

Rochester used to be a Kodak company town and that attitude filtered down to all the other major employers. They were highly paternalistic, but also committed to a public image of charity. Rochester prided itself on having the highest per capita contributions of any UW in the country. So as recently as 40 years ago, United Way contributions were essentially mandatory. You were told to give and you were told how much and your job rating would depend on your doing so.

Then came the revolt. Part of it was the changing community. The local UW, naturally, was as conservative as could be. It wouldn't fund Planned Parenthood, e.g. And lots of smaller organizations that were not on the approved list happened, just happened, to serve and be run by minorities. The UW, for some reason, wasn't run by minorities. And as businesses started cutting jobs and giving up on promises of lifetime employment with large pensions, employees gave up on acquiescing to paternalist bosses.

So at about the same time, UW contributions became more realistically voluntary. And they allowed directed contributions, even to groups that weren't on the official approved list. People could allocate a piece of their UW money to Planned Parenthood while still knowing that the other groups would be covered. Sure they could give to PP directly, but UW contributions could be taken directly out of a paycheck with no effort on the individual's part. That was guaranteed money. The non-approved agencies jumped at that. The money that comes from UW is actually cheaper than the money raised directly after the huge costs of begging for it through mailings.

If you asked me 30 years ago whether the UW was good or evil, I would have said evil. Today I have no problem with contributions. They cleaned up their act, IMO. Of course, the people who think PP is evil now hate the UW for collecting money for them. (There are other such groups as well, but PP was the one that caught the brunt of the lightning.)

Something similar probably can be said of every UW in the country.
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Old 08-17-2011, 01:59 PM
md2000 md2000 is online now
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Funny, I recall just the opposite - UW in many Canadian cities would support a large number of member charities; at the time I went to a Catholic college and IIRC they got their panties in a twist in the conservative Catholic heirarchy over UW funding Planned Parenthood. There was talk of withdrawing or boycotting UW, but in the end the furor died down.

UW is good in that (theoretically) they are a publishers' clearinghouse of giving, so you don't have ths or that charity drive from every sad charity every week. (but we do). One big event a year and that's it. As for overhead, it's one thing to run a clearinghouse office for a few months, it's another thing to run a large organization like the SPCA with payroll and accounting costs year round, power, lights and heat and office space rental, licensing, plus things like publicity campaigns etc. 14% doesn't seem to excessive either. The worst is those telethon or telephone "charities" that do contract fundraising and can take 60% or more of the total haul.

Fortunately, I was never on the receiving end of any severe corporate pressure tactics for UW; things were pretty lacksadaisical. If you want to give to a charity, give to a charity. If you want to cover all the bases and don't have a special cause, give to the UW.

Last edited by md2000; 08-17-2011 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 08-17-2011, 02:09 PM
muldoonthief muldoonthief is online now
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The evil comes in when it becomes a contest to raise the most money, usually within a corporation. The United Way is usually not behind that, but the United Way volunteer for your company can become very gung ho and annoying, insisting they get 100% participation or that they donate a set amount.
Trust me, as a former "volunteer", we weren't happy about it either. My first year at GE, I was informed that I was now the UW collector for my department. I was also informed that my target was 100% participation, and that I was expected to set an example by contributing a minimum of 3% of my salary. I was informed, not hinted at, but informed, that my review would absolutely take both those targets into account. So yes, people probably found me annoying when I tried to protect my own job by getting them to donate. Of course, United Way hasn't gotten a penny out of me since.
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Old 08-17-2011, 02:10 PM
taffygirl taffygirl is offline
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I used to be CEO of a non-profit that was a United Way agency. The original premise behind UW was that people would only have to give to one agency (UW) instead of having charities knocking at their doors all the time: one drive, done. However, in my town, UW couldn't raise enough money to fully fund all the non-profits, so there was a big UW drive PLUS a bunch of fund-raisers from different charities. Thus, UW reduced the number of times individuals and businesses were solicited but far from eliminated them.

That irritated a number of people, to the point where some of them stopped giving to either UW or to the individual non-profits. Some people also didn't like the fact that UW has its own staff and expenses (necessities), so not all the money donated goes directly to charities--and of course, each non-profit has ITS own staff and operating expenses, so a little less of the money goes directly to the goods and services provided to the less fortunate.
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:30 PM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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This is one of those oft-repeated phrases that's simply not true. It's certainly what United Way says, but they're a bunch of lying jerkasses.
That's definitely not universal. The UW where I live says they pass the money directly to the charity I designate, and that the designation does not affect how much they receive from the general fund. They even process donations for hundreds of local charities that receive *no* money from the general fund.

I would definitely encourage people to check out the facts about their local UW agency before making a decision one way or the other.
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:42 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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<snip>
I will admit that my biggest gripe with them is the workplace donations. As far as UW "not condoning" workplace pressure - yeah, right. It just somehow has spontaneously happened across the country at gazillions of workplaces for several decades. But UW doesn't encourage it, oh no.
That's been our experience with UW, too - the strong-arming, the coercion, the complete, bald-assed invasion of privacy ("You're the only one in your department who hasn't donated - you don't want to screw everyone else over for their 100% participation awards, do you?").

With all the problems with United Way, I don't see any reason to donate to them when I can write a cheque to the charity of my choice in about 30 seconds. Oh my God, I have to pay for an envelope and a stamp, too?!? Yeah, I can cough up for that, too.
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:51 PM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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Moderating: Moved thread GQ->IMHO

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ETA: This may be better suited for IMHO. Sorry Mods. If it is, move it please!
So moved!
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  #21  
Old 08-17-2011, 04:02 PM
Algher Algher is offline
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Another issue is that the UW becomes such a source for some charities, that if things change those charities can find themselves in a world of hurt. The small charity is dependent on one big donor effectively, a donor that can change their mind for a variety of reasons.

I know that the NRA used to send out messages to its members on how to direct their work donations to the NRA. The Boy Scouts of America have done the same, after some UW chapters stopped supporting them.

I think the UW had a great purpose before the internet, but now that we can find charities, review them, and easily make direct donations I don't know if they are still as critical.
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:30 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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I would definitely encourage people to check out the facts about their local UW agency before making a decision one way or the other.
My understanding is that this is also a scam. There's two "classes" of charities in United Way. There's the little local ones and there's big national ones that get a kickback from every donation. The little local ones, yeah, they can get nothing.

Note: I don't have any cites for this, just what I've been told

Last edited by Fenris; 08-17-2011 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 08-17-2011, 05:29 PM
Dread Pirate Jimbo Dread Pirate Jimbo is offline
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Another issue is that the UW becomes such a source for some charities, that if things change those charities can find themselves in a world of hurt. The small charity is dependent on one big donor effectively, a donor that can change their mind for a variety of reasons.

<snip>
To my knowledge, it is part of general UW policy that charities are prohibited from running their own fundraising campaigns at the same time as the UW campaign is on, which puts smaller charities at a major disadvantage for bringing in funds on their own, leaving them with little choice but to depend almost exclusively on UW money to operate. Not cool.

I'm in one of those UW zones where there is a flat rate "overhead" charge for redirecting funds to a specific charity and, if my money does not exceed the annual allocation for that charity, they get nothing over and above that allocation. So if I were to decide to bow to the pressure at work to be a team player and give to the UW, and I decide to give $20, and I ask that that $20 be sent to, say, the Boys and Girls Club, first the UW will take their cut (which is $17), and then they'll throw my whopping three bucks into the general pool that they were sending that way anyway. Alternatively, I could take a twenty dollar bill to the Boys and Girls Club, hand it to the person at their front desk, and they wind up with the UW allotment AND my twenty bucks. It's really a no-brainer for me, although the high-pressure tactics conducted every fall at work during the campaign are irritating to the point where I've been tempted to lodge a complaint with HR (except that HR runs the campaign, so I'm not sure it would do much good).

I will not knowingly give one red cent to the United Way. They're a bunch of multiple sons of multiple bitches, IMHO.
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Old 08-17-2011, 05:44 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Keeping this as factual as possible: They're a clearinghouse for charities. ... United Way doesn't engage in any charity themselves; they're just a middleman. .
This is, in many many cases, completely incorrect. The United Way in my area offers a tremendous amount of services, and is an indispensable (non-financial) resource for organizations that it serves. It may not be providing services directly to individuals, but that's hardly a requirement for any number of non-profits. The seminars, databases, consulting, fiscal oversight and NGO capacity of our United Way would be nearly impossible to replace if they disappeared.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
My understanding is that this is also a scam. There's two "classes" of charities in United Way. There's the little local ones and there's big national ones that get a kickback from every donation. The little local ones, yeah, they can get nothing.

Note: I don't have any cites for this, just what I've been told
No offense, but this sounds like complete bullshit. If you don't have a cite, could you look for one?

As for my perspective, I have very mixed feelings. As I alluded to above, I've worked closely with our United Way on a number of different committees, functions, and activities - they're a tremendous organization, and have a level of institutional knowledge that they apply to building up the stability of non-profits in our area that would be very difficult to replicate. The fees they take out of donations is well worth what they give back.

On the other hand, I just started working for an organization that receives UW money - and as a condition of that money, my department has to cease actively fundraising from September through mid-November. That's not the absolute peak of fundraising season, but it's awfully damn close. There are plenty of other activities that we can engage in (informational mailings, gathering information, planning our winter appeal, etc.) - but it's a mighty big string to attach to the funds.

As for the pressure that's put on people in the workplace, I've been there as well. The shenanigans that take place to get at or near 100% giving is atrocious. As a United Way organization, we do benefit from reaching a much larger donor base than we could otherwise afford, and anyone that designates our organization for funding has their information given to us so that we may solicit them in our other appeals. I'd love to be independent of those funds, but it's not worth it at the moment.

Last edited by Munch; 08-17-2011 at 05:45 PM.
  #25  
Old 08-17-2011, 07:57 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
My understanding is that this is also a scam. There's two "classes" of charities in United Way. There's the little local ones and there's big national ones that get a kickback from every donation. The little local ones, yeah, they can get nothing.

Note: I don't have any cites for this, just what I've been told
I don't know where you live and I don't know what the policies of your local UW are.

But I agree that this sounds like complete bullshit. Of course, "what I've been told" is complete bullshit 99% of the time. That's why cites can never be found.

Most United Ways have total expenses of 12-18%, total including fund raising costs and standard overhead. That's fairly low as such things go. The Better Business Bureau rates OK anything under 35% for fundraising and 15% for overhead. That's right. If 50% goes to programs, that's a good record. The UW runs 85%.

Want to check it out? The Better Business Bureau Charity Review will provide a complete breakout of income and expenditures and give an administrative expense percentage. For Rochester, fund raising is 8% and overhead 5%. So 87% goes to programs.
  #26  
Old 08-18-2011, 02:12 AM
DHMO DHMO is offline
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Back in the early '80s, when I was working in Tampa, FL, we had UW drives every year. A co-worker had had a very negative experience with the UW-sponsored and -approved shakedown at his former employer, and was waxing eloquent about how he had absolutely no intention to contribute this go-round. I was commiserating with him, when our boss, "Skip", came out of his office to berate me for trying to convince my co-worker not to contribute.

I patiently explained that I was not trying to change my co-worker's mind or his decision to contribute or not, but was merely agreeing with him and his reasons for not participating. But since you're here, I continued, why is it that the United Way encourages employers to hold hostage their employees' jobs, performance reviews, raises and promotions, based on whether, and how much, they contribute to the United Way?

Me: "So there is a big consortium of executives downtown running the United Way campaign, and they decide that all the wage slaves in the community should have their life and livelihood held hostage to the "charitable" fund drive, when many, such as my co-worker and I, contribute voluntarily, and generously, on our own without management jack-boot tactics?"

Skip: "For your information, 'Dave', our director, is on the board of the United Way, and he gets a plaque to hang on his wall if we get 100% participation."

Me: [I knew this already] "Ahhh...so that's what this is really all about. It has nothing whatsoever to do with helping those in our community who, for reasons beyond their control, are less well off than us, and deserving of the community's charity. It is all about Dave getting a plaque to hang on his office wall."

Skip: "Well...I..."

Me: "So the fact that my buddy here and I contribute generously to those less fortunate, counts for nothing, because Dave can't brag to the other board members that his agency had 100% participation, and get a plaque to hang on his wall, is that about right?"

Skip: "Well...I..."

Me: "I have nothing more to say."

Skip: "Me either." And he turns on his heel and storms off to his office.

To address the contention that the Board of Directors of the United Way campaign were unaware of the reprehensible workplace tactics used to coerce the employees to participate, I point to the obvious fact that said board is composed of executives from the very companies and governmental agencies which engage in these disreputable practices.

Either they know, and agree with the tactics, and are therefore corrupt, in my estimation, or they are blissfully unaware of the atrocities being perpetrated in their name, with the inevitable animosity which that engenders, in which case they are incompetent, in my estimation, to handle and disburse the billions of dollars flowing through the United Way coffers.

In either case, I would much rather research charitable organizations on my own, and determine, to the best of my abilities and with the publicly-available information, which seem—to me—to be best equipped and managed to provide services to the community with a moderate overhead.

Here it is, thirty years later, and in Colorado, and we still get the literature from our employer every year for the UW campaign where they acknowledge the apprehensions of employees to the egregious shakedowns of the past with a line to the effect that, "We don't do that anymore."


ANYMORE!


They admit they used to, and still would, were it not for governmental intervention preventing them from using UW participation as a sledgehammer over the heads of their employees!
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Old 08-18-2011, 08:36 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Originally Posted by Dread Pirate Jimbo View Post
To my knowledge, it is part of general UW policy that charities are prohibited from running their own fundraising campaigns at the same time as the UW campaign is on, which puts smaller charities at a major disadvantage for bringing in funds on their own, leaving them with little choice but to depend almost exclusively on UW money to operate. Not cool.
Girl Scouts cannot sell cookies during UW fundraising in the Twin Cities if we want UW money. Which is in October. So logically, our Scouts here in Minnesota are sort of forced into a January - March cookie season - have you gone door to door in January or stood outside your WalMart in February?
  #28  
Old 08-18-2011, 08:44 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Is it too dumb a question to ask why they don't sell their cookies April through June?
  #29  
Old 08-18-2011, 10:26 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
Girl Scouts cannot sell cookies during UW fundraising in the Twin Cities if we want UW money. Which is in October. So logically, our Scouts here in Minnesota are sort of forced into a January - March cookie season - have you gone door to door in January or stood outside your WalMart in February?
Frozen thin mints are actually pretty good. Maybe that timing disadvantage could be turned into a marketing opportunity.
  #30  
Old 08-18-2011, 10:39 AM
CandidGamera CandidGamera is offline
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I do not contribute to the United Way. I can't imagine circumstances that would inspire me to do so. I write checks to local charities directly.
  #31  
Old 08-18-2011, 11:01 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
Frozen thin mints are actually pretty good.
Frozen Brownies, not so much.
  #32  
Old 08-18-2011, 12:09 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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Nine years ago, a group leader where I worked sent out an email asking for volunteers to help build a wheelchair ramp for a disabled person. It was part of a United Way project.

I volunteered. It was estimated to take three days to finish the job (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). The group leader gave out the address of the person's home. He told everyone to bring whatever tools we think we might need.

I gather a bunch of my tools and headed to the place Friday morning. At least 15 other people from my work showed up.

The place was very nice... a nice ranch home in a rural area. While I was busting out the old concrete steps using a sledge hammer, the homeowner came out to chat with us. He never said anything along the lines of "Thanks" or "I appreciate what you're doing." I said he had a nice place, and asked how much land he had. "We have 10 acres."

That pissed me off. I knew for a fact the area he lived in had very high land values. I would estimate land sold for around $30K to $50K per acre in that area. Why couldn't he sell a couple acres of land? He could then easily pay for someone to build a ramp. Here I am, busting my ass trying to build this guy a ramp, and he lived in a much nicer place than me.

Around noon some guy from the United Way drove up in his new Cadillac. I guess he was the project manager, and wanted to see the progress. He didn't lift a finger to help, nor did he thank us.

After that experience, I never gave another fucking dime to the UW.
  #33  
Old 08-18-2011, 12:16 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
Is it too dumb a question to ask why they don't sell their cookies April through June?
Girl Scouts runs on a school year schedule. By the time you hit the end of March - the school year has kicked into end of school year activities. You don't get the GIRLS participation in the Spring - they are too busy with choir concerts and book reports. And in Spring the Girl Scouts themselves tend to be pretty busy - they have to finish their service work, if they are moving up they need to complete the requirements to bridge. The Councils need to shift into planning for girls to show up at camp in June. So Spring is pretty booked - for the organization, for the troops, and for the girls.

Fall is pretty ideal - weather is nice, the girls would like to fund the current year (young girls don't really do well fiscally planning more than "this year.") Back to school is less busy than the start. New troops are organizing, which would create a full year of non-funding because they'd miss the season - but by the time you collect the first cookie proceeds, you are almost at the end of the school year anyway (most first year troops fund themselves with dues and parent donations).
  #34  
Old 08-18-2011, 12:17 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quoth Exapno Mapcase:
Quote:
Most United Ways have total expenses of 12-18%, total including fund raising costs and standard overhead. That's fairly low as such things go. The Better Business Bureau rates OK anything under 35% for fundraising and 15% for overhead. That's right. If 50% goes to programs, that's a good record. The UW runs 85%.
No, the United Way doesn't run 85%, since they're just a middleman. Ultimately, they run 85% times whatever the percentage is of the charity they're passing the money on to. No matter what the endpoint charity is, it's always going to be significantly better to just donate to them directly. And even if 85% were the total, there are still plenty of good charities that make it up into the mid 90s.

Quoth Munch:
Quote:
This is, in many many cases, completely incorrect. The United Way in my area offers a tremendous amount of services, and is an indispensable (non-financial) resource for organizations that it serves. It may not be providing services directly to individuals, but that's hardly a requirement for any number of non-profits. The seminars, databases, consulting, fiscal oversight and NGO capacity of our United Way would be nearly impossible to replace if they disappeared.
Ah, yes, where would all those poor people with a crippling shortage of seminars be, if it weren't for the UW? Why, I know a family that's gone without PowerPoint for a year-- However can they survive without such necessities?
  #35  
Old 08-18-2011, 12:24 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
Girl Scouts runs on a school year schedule. By the time you hit the end of March - the school year has kicked into end of school year activities. You don't get the GIRLS participation in the Spring - they are too busy with choir concerts and book reports. And in Spring the Girl Scouts themselves tend to be pretty busy - they have to finish their service work, if they are moving up they need to complete the requirements to bridge. The Councils need to shift into planning for girls to show up at camp in June. So Spring is pretty booked - for the organization, for the troops, and for the girls.

Fall is pretty ideal - weather is nice, the girls would like to fund the current year (young girls don't really do well fiscally planning more than "this year.") Back to school is less busy than the start. New troops are organizing, which would create a full year of non-funding because they'd miss the season - but by the time you collect the first cookie proceeds, you are almost at the end of the school year anyway (most first year troops fund themselves with dues and parent donations).
Life is full of tough choices -- I've heard of worse reasons for dropping out of school than to raise funds for Girl Scouts.
  #36  
Old 08-18-2011, 01:28 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
Girl Scouts runs on a school year schedule. By the time you hit the end of March - the school year has kicked into end of school year activities. You don't get the GIRLS participation in the Spring - they are too busy with choir concerts and book reports. And in Spring the Girl Scouts themselves tend to be pretty busy - they have to finish their service work, if they are moving up they need to complete the requirements to bridge. The Councils need to shift into planning for girls to show up at camp in June. So Spring is pretty booked - for the organization, for the troops, and for the girls.

Fall is pretty ideal - weather is nice, the girls would like to fund the current year (young girls don't really do well fiscally planning more than "this year.") Back to school is less busy than the start. New troops are organizing, which would create a full year of non-funding because they'd miss the season - but by the time you collect the first cookie proceeds, you are almost at the end of the school year anyway (most first year troops fund themselves with dues and parent donations).
Anyway, this spring I saw a girl scout cookie table where the adults were the ones doing ALL the work. There wasn't a girl in sight. Come on people. Just say you are another cookie dealer and be done with it.
  #37  
Old 08-18-2011, 03:02 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
Anyway, this spring I saw a girl scout cookie table where the adults were the ones doing ALL the work. There wasn't a girl in sight. Come on people. Just say you are another cookie dealer and be done with it.
I wouldn't have bought cookies from that troop. My girls were out on a bitter March day making change and handing people their cookies. I supervise and drink coffee.
  #38  
Old 08-18-2011, 03:13 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CandidGamera View Post
I do not contribute to the United Way. I can't imagine circumstances that would inspire me to do so.<snip>
Feeling that your job is threatened if you don't play ball and act like a team player - would that do it? That's what we're talking about here.

ETA: I don't mean that to be snarky at you - I am very disappointed in the United Way and their tactics and bitter about how companies let them get away with it instead of telling them to go fuck themselves.

Last edited by Cat Whisperer; 08-18-2011 at 03:14 PM.
  #39  
Old 08-18-2011, 03:53 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
Feeling that your job is threatened if you don't play ball and act like a team player - would that do it? That's what we're talking about here.

ETA: I don't mean that to be snarky at you - I am very disappointed in the United Way and their tactics and bitter about how companies let them get away with it instead of telling them to go fuck themselves.
That DOES seem to be really the exception for both organizations and the UW now a days - although I've been there - big rah-rah United Way drives. 100% participation. Auctions, buy a sticker to wear jeans.....been there, done that. The implication that this shakedown was part of keeping your job.

Years ago I worked for a Sr. VP as his admin. I wrote out his Christmas cards, bought his wife jewelry for their anniversary, picked up his drycleaning - and I did his banking. We paid this guy over $1M a year by the time his bonuses and options were done. The executives were expected to donate at least 3% themselves AND they were expected to give up something "of significant value" for the auction (if they didn't have any ideas, a month worth of their parking spot in the underground lot was volunteered for them). He wasn't thrilled about this - he was probably less thrilled about this than many of us were/are.
  #40  
Old 08-18-2011, 04:22 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
That DOES seem to be really the exception for both organizations and the UW now a days - although I've been there - big rah-rah United Way drives. 100% participation. ...
Is there any evidence this is the exception rather than the norm? I know far more people who have had bad experiences with the UW in the workplace than good ones. But of course my experience is purely anecdotal as well.

Last edited by Boyo Jim; 08-18-2011 at 04:22 PM.
  #41  
Old 08-18-2011, 04:54 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Is there any evidence this is the exception rather than the norm? I know far more people who have had bad experiences with the UW in the workplace than good ones. But of course my experience is purely anecdotal as well.
No, it just seems to be that at least around here, 20 years ago it was a lot MORE shakedown like. And that a lot of the complaints that I hear are for activities that happened YEARS ago.

We dropped our United Way drive probably eight years ago and don't even participate in one any longer. Friends and families drives have gotten less arm twisty.
  #42  
Old 08-18-2011, 05:10 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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At my last job it was like that now... or nearly two years ago, before I was laid off. I'm sure there are lots of people who have old stories, but there are plenty who have contemporary ones too.
  #43  
Old 08-18-2011, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Quoth Munch:Ah, yes, where would all those poor people with a crippling shortage of seminars be, if it weren't for the UW? Why, I know a family that's gone without PowerPoint for a year-- However can they survive without such necessities?
Your strawman actually set up a strawman - impressive. Your post doesn't address a single point I raised. In fact, I specifically pointed out that United Way doesn't directly serve individuals - but there are countless non-profits out there that also don't serve individuals but provide essential services. I've seen first hand the good that my United Way does, and there simply isn't a way for someone to twist the facts around to disprove that. It's sucks that your United Way isn't as effective. Or, more likely, that you have absolutely no fucking idea what your United Way does - you just like to gnash and wail about a disservice you think is occurring.

Last edited by Munch; 08-18-2011 at 06:00 PM.
  #44  
Old 08-18-2011, 05:59 PM
Dread Pirate Jimbo Dread Pirate Jimbo is offline
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I get the high pressure treatment at my current job every single year. Bastards.
  #45  
Old 08-18-2011, 06:09 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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I'm going to be interested to see how much pressure I get at my new job. We are a United Way agency (we receive funds from them, so we're required). Our CEO decreed several years ago that he doesn't want to solicit our employees twice a year with a separate appeal, so every donation that comes from a pledge will have a chunk taken out to United Way. Plus, there's the chance that someone designates a different organization for their donation. How hard of a push will they give - I'm interested.

Last edited by Munch; 08-18-2011 at 06:10 PM.
  #46  
Old 08-18-2011, 09:43 PM
Canadjun Canadjun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
You can tell them to do this, but if the particular charity is pledged more money than they were budgeted to receive from UW, they will not get any extra. One cite.
Re-read your cite; it actually says the opposite. The one charity in that area that was able to get more money pledged than UW budgeted for them was the only one that got their allocation adjusted.
  #47  
Old 08-19-2011, 08:48 AM
CandidGamera CandidGamera is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
Feeling that your job is threatened if you don't play ball and act like a team player - would that do it? That's what we're talking about here.

ETA: I don't mean that to be snarky at you - I am very disappointed in the United Way and their tactics and bitter about how companies let them get away with it instead of telling them to go fuck themselves.
That would inspire me to find a good employment lawyer. I respond poorly to unwarranted, assumed authority.
  #48  
Old 08-19-2011, 11:05 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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No matter what the endpoint charity is, it's always going to be significantly better to just donate to them directly. And even if 85% were the total, there are still plenty of good charities that make it up into the mid 90s.
If you give directly to organizations, good for you.

But as I keep having to point out time after time, it's not about you. Your individual behavior doesn't matter a hill of beans. It's the collective behavior of everyone that matters.

In the real world that we both live in, many people do not give to individual charities. They don't think of it, or they don't get around to it, or they would but didn't have the money at that time. As many excuses as there are people. And even those who do give directly may not know of some small but worthy organizations that can't afford the horrendously expensive business of professional fundraising.

And that's where middlemen organizations come in. Yeah, they collect at work but in return they offer the opportunity for direct payroll deductions. People like that. It's mostly invisible and they don't have to think about making 52 (or 26 or 12) individual donations. And they don't get bothered by junk mail every week. It works the best for the most people.

Yes, workplace pressure is bad. I said that myself. Yes, giving directly is good. I do that too, in addition to giving to United Way. Both ways are necessary to get the money where it needs to go because I can't research every organization in the area personally.

If you don't like UW, don't give. But don't say that the concept is wrong in and of itself, because it's not. Your individual UW may be unworthy, but that doesn't carry over to mine, or his or hers.
  #49  
Old 08-19-2011, 04:30 PM
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And even if 85% were the total, there are still plenty of good charities that make it up into the mid 90s.
Yes - there are. However, it needs to be noted that the vast majority of organizations misreport their numbers because it's a bullshit and mostly-arbitrary standard. An organization getting to 85% is about as meaningless as a company getting to 100% United Way participation.
  #50  
Old 08-20-2011, 11:24 PM
Blueberry Buckle Blueberry Buckle is offline
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On the other hand, I just started working for an organization that receives UW money - and as a condition of that money, my department has to cease actively fundraising from September through mid-November. That's not the absolute peak of fundraising season, but it's awfully damn close. There are plenty of other activities that we can engage in (informational mailings, gathering information, planning our winter appeal, etc.) - but it's a mighty big string to attach to the funds.
Would you be able to expand on this concept a little for me? I'm trying to understand why an organization who financially assists NPO's, prohibit all fundraising activities during certain periods as a stipulation to their assistance. I tried to consider the dollar amount of the contribution, if it was greater than what your organization would have raised during the 2.5 months. However, at this moment it doesn't hold water for me because of the negative impact your organization could have from the potential lost revenue, and perhaps the indirect results. I've never heard of something like this before, but then again I've only worked for two nonprofits in my career. I'm currently working on a nonprofit graduate degree, and have yet to come across a scenario like this. Thanks in advance!!
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