Local News

Triangle United Way Accused Of Fund-Raising Favoritism

Posted October 31, 2002

— Many local charities are accusing the Triangle United Way of playing favorites when it comes to fund raising.

The charities said the group changed the way it seeks money from nonmember groups, and some of them said they are now feeling a negative impact.

The Triangle United Way is in full fund-raising mode -- on the air and on paper; however, it is what is not on paper that has the head of Durham-based Earth Share upset.

The issue stems from a charity choice sheet.

For the past few years, it listed United Way agencies inside and private agencies not endorsed by the United Way on the back.

This year, the sheet only has United Way member agencies in it. Groups left off of the back are wondering why.

Jill Lewis of Earth Share said many companies have called complaining they were not given a second sheet which lists non-United Way affiliated charities on it. In the past, all groups were listed on one sheet.

"Sometimes they'll go and look for it and call us back and they'll say they just can't find this thing," she said.

Triangle United Way officials said they put the non-United Way members on a separate sheet to attract attention to its member charities.

"Our emphasis is on making sure we raise money for the programs that are local and programs we measure, so our materials reflect that change," said Mary Williams-Stover of Triangle United Way.

So why are the non-United Way charities missing?

"Every company receives the same materials, but it's up to the company then to decide what they will distribute," Williams-Stover said.

Nonmember groups pay the United Way a fee, usually around 13 percent, to be listed. Now, they said they feel cheated.

"It kind of defeats the whole purpose of the relationship. The reason it got started in the first place was to create a lot of efficiencies for everyone involved," Lewis said.

Some of the nonmember groups plan to meet with the United Way in the next few months to see if they can iron out the problem. With more than 100 groups listed separately, the charities worry about losing tens of thousands of dollars in donations during that time.


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