United Way has a good efficiency rating

Published 3:29 pm Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ann Austin, Live United

Around this time of year, our office is busy making follow-up phone calls and checking our lists — at least twice — to make sure we’ve been able to connect with everyone.

Ann Austin

I always feel a bit like Santa Claus — excited to see what we can provide for the community next year. Our community has always been very generous, even though our requests are often greater than what we can provide. In reality, our community provides more funding than other communities of similar size. I can’t help but think this is because many of you understand the value of the programs we support.

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There is one thing that concerns me, especially at this time of year. It always seems there is misinformation spread about the nonprofits that are active in our area.

I hope many of you have not encountered this, but if you have, all I ask is that you take some time to find out if the information is accurate or if it’s meant to undermine the organizations.

United Way is an organization that has been targeted — the claims vary from overhead percentage of the organization, to how much we pay for membership fees to United Way Worldwide.

I can assure you that when you give to the United Way, funds are used efficiently. Our office has an overhead percentage of 11 percent (5 percent management and 6 percent fundraising). We are audited every year and also go through an extensive process for United Way Worldwide membership. United Way Worldwide has an overall efficiency rating of 89 percent, according to Charity Navigator.

Our annual dues to United Way Worldwide are 1 percent of the total campaign, which is much less than other organizations pay to affiliates. And we receive a lot for our membership: We get free services such as Constant Contact, advice and access to programs such as the FamilyWize Prescription Drug Discount Card that has now saved our community over $119,000 since we introduced it in 2010. We also are given a certain percentage back every year to attend workshops and seminars to help expand our knowledge. These are all services that we would have to pay for if we weren’t associated with United Way Worldwide.

Our board of directors and allocations volunteers take time to ensure we are operating efficiently, but also that the organizations we support are meeting proper standards of financial accountability and are running programs that truly meet community needs.

Our United Way is a local organization that was created years ago to address local community needs. Our staff and volunteers live and work in the community and are committed to doing what is best for our neighbors. If you have any questions, you are always free to call. Our number is 373-8670. We are transparent with our operations and are very intentional with the decisions that are made.

We look forward to focusing on finding ways to create a stronger community, by working together. I know it won’t be possible to reach everyone, but with your help, perhaps people will get a better understanding of our United Way.


Ann Austin is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.