Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Troubled times at United way?

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy, an article about some issues of great concern to health and human services agencies that traditionally benefit from the United Way...

(this is also a good follow up to this blog's discussion a few weeks ago about the role of designations in changing philanthropy)

Arts, Education Groups Getting Bigger Share of United Way Aid

As United Ways give donors more control over where their gifts go, the organizations are increasingly giving a bigger share of their funds to arts and education groups, reports the Los Angeles Times (link to LA Times story).

Since the early 1990s, the percentage of donors who direct money to pet causes has increased significantly, to 25 percent, the article says, leaving less money for United Way to distribute to groups that were traditionally the organization’s beneficiaries, such as Catholic Charities and Salvation Army.

The percentage of donors who earmark their gifts was even higher in Los Angeles—around 66 percent—and local museums, operas, private schools, and universities have benefited. The head of the United Way in Los Angeles has pledged to change the ratio of directed-to-nondirected to half and half.

But nonprofit experts said convincing donors to shift money from beloved institutions to what the newspaper calls “skid row medical clinics and after-school programs for the disadvantaged” would not be easy.

Elise Buik, president of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said she would possibly ask donors to give money twice, splitting donations between their pet causes and organizations that provide social services.