A United Way Quandary in Syracuse

October 26, 2010; Source: Syracuse.com | The United Way of Central New York has been given the lowest possible rating of “1” by Charity Navigator for having higher than usual administrative costs and less reserves than the watchdog advises. This editorial on the Syracuse.com website discusses the fact that the take from the campaign for the past two years has been smaller than anticipated and that this makes costs per dollar raised higher, but it encourages people to keep giving based on the organization’s reduction of costs. A woman I spoke with at the Compasspoint conference over a year ago suggested that if the recession dragged on  nonprofits might end up facing lower ratings from watchdogs for just these kinds of reasons. Smart woman. This situation leaves us wondering if the oft cited “spend money to make money,” and traditional reserve calculations  should apply as usual in these times. Thoughts?—Ruth McCambridge