In 2010, United Ways across America provided $53,160,856 to 291 of 296 Boy Scout councils. This figure represents 7.22 percent of all local council income, a significant amount of support, but a 7.4 percent decrease from 2009.
UNITED WAY TRENDS
In 2000, United Way of America announced that it would shift its strategic focus from being a Fund raiser to becoming an advocacy and community-impact organization. United Way of America has since promoted the Agenda for Community Impact model, and local affiliates have adopted and implemented that model. United Way of America has promoted issues that included education, income stability, and healthy lives.
At the heart of the Community Impact approach is that United Way organizations are free to select and focus on local issues, raise funds for those issues, and make grants to organizations that demonstrated the capacity to affect issues. The greatest implication of this decision was to move the United Way from being a collection of funded agencies working together to an organization that funds selected issues and advocates for the issues deemed a high priority.
The other significant implication is that by funding causes rather than member agencies, dollars are being reallocated in directions you may not be aware of or agree with. In many cases the Community Impact approach has resulted in funding previously committed to United Way’s traditional agency base being drastically reduced. In others, zero funding is now provided, and in several communities, the member-agency model has been abandoned altogether.
National agencies with local affiliates seem to have been most affected by the Community Impact model. The American Red Cross has been defunded or has seen substantially lower allocation by United Way organizations serving New York; Portland, Oregon; Dallas; and Palo Alto and Orange County, California, to name a few. Salvation Army funding was cut so severely in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Boston that the organization withdrew from those United Way affiliates. Examples of other groups feeling the impact of the new United Way approach and allocation of funds include the Boy Scouts of America, Girls Inc., the Girl Scout USA, YMCA, and Goodwill Industries.
But not all United Way organizations have adopted the Agenda for Community Impact Model just yet. Many still retain member agencies (now referred to as partners) alongside the priority causes or issues representing each community’s needs. While this responds to local needs, it means that organizations like the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts or regional agencies that cross multiple local United Way organizations may be funded by one Untied Way jurisdiction and not by an adjacent United Way.
United Way organizations collectively raised $3.91 billion in 2001, and $3.85 billion in 2009. While United Way’s strategy of diversifying its funding sources has not achieved an increase in revenue, it may be a necessary strategy given what appears to be the deteriorating appeal of the United Way in the workplace. Please, when you give to the United Way, if you do not wish to have your donation distributed to advocacy groups or to support a cause, designate your donation be given to a specific “partner”. If that partner agency does not appear on the donation form, contact your United Way affiliate to find out how your money can be directed to the charities you wish to support.