Chantilly-Based Nonprofit Federation Draws 21 From United Way - Loudoun Philanthropist Interviewed
Per the Washington Post article:
"Twenty-one area nonprofit groups have suspended their memberships in the United Way and joined a fledgling competitor, citing years of frustration with a steady decline in workplace giving in the Washington region and lingering distrust of the local United Way since it was nearly destroyed by scandal earlier this decade. The new group, called Community1st, includes some of the region's most prominent nonprofits, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, WETA public television and the Whitman-Walker Clinic. The nonprofits' leaders are scheduled to announce the move at a news conference this morning, where they will be joined by officials from America's Charities, the Chantilly-based federation that will oversee their alliance."
We turned to a prominent local independent philanthropy professional, Diana Kingsbury-Smith Keesee, VP for Fundraising & Public Relations of the paws4people(TM) Inc. Foundation of Round Hill, VA, for some additional background...
DSO - What's your take on this news from "America's Charities", the Chantilly-based Federation heading this new alliance?
Diana - The Washington Post article about America's Charities and Community1st provided a lot of very interesting and important information for all non-profits. While our organization, paws4people(TM), Inc., is not yet affiliated with America's Charities, we are a participating charity in the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area so that federal employees have the opportunity to support paws4people by earmarking their donations for our CFC number 19234.
DSO - Was this withdrawal expected, and will more occur? How does this action reflect the environment your organization faces?
Diana - Unfortunately, this withdrawal was not surprising, and more of this type of withdrawal will occur because of the volatile economic situation and the public's demand for greater accountabilty in both the for-profit and non-profit communities, as well as federal and state funding. Fortunately for our own organization, our efforts including (a) programs to rescue dogs from euthanasia, (b) the dogs' training by prison inmates participating in our paws4prisons program (www.paws4prisons.org), and (c) the dogs' placement with wounded warriors suffering from PTSD (www.paws4vets.org) are generating increased support for paws4people Inc. In fact, there has been a significant increase over the past twelve months in the level of support we are getting from individuals and corporations. Although the primary reason for this increased support are the dramatic, life-changing benefits all our paws4people programs are providing to society, the fact that our fundraising/administrative costs are well below the traditionally accepted 25% for non-profits is also a very positive factor.
DSO - What benefits do you expect these nonprofits to find in their new
consortium, "Community1st", that they were unable to achieve under the
United Way? Should others seek to join alliances like this?
Diana - There are many benefits in working within a consortium such as Community 1st: pooling resources, access to affordable marketing, cutting costs, etc. For instance, America's Charities provides the non-profits in its Community1st consortium with lower overhead costs (6.5%), customized fundraising campaigns and fewer restrictions on where donors' money is directed and, most important, it passes 98% of each donation to its non-profit groups. All these factors are causing non-profits to withdraw from United Way because, as reported in The Washington Post, " United Way keeps 10% of most donations to its member non-profit groups, and smaller donations go to a community fund, not the designated group...United Way cannot efficiently distribute small donations because of processing costs."
DSO - Are there other consortium models that nonprofits should consider as
alternatives to those like the United Way?
Diana - Yes, there are other consortium models that non-profits should look at. I recommend the online charitable raffles program for non-profit organizations, www.CharityRaffles.org (www.npofs.org), because it provides their donors with two important incentives. (1) The donor can choose the non-profit organization he/she wants his/her donation to benefit and (2), in exchange for his/her donation, the donor gets one or more raffle tickets with incredibly good odds of winning from $20 to $1,000,000. A chance to win up to $1,000,000 while you are providing support for the charitable cause you care most about is truly a WIN/WIN situation for individuals; and, this mechanism provides the non-profits that join the CharityRaffles.org consortium with the opportunity to obtain, cost-free, a continuous stream of contributions.