United Way Forwards Awkward Rationale for Funding Cuts

June 9, 2011; Source: Metro | There is always a chance that the following flows more from inaccuracies in reporting than from the speakers themselves, but if I were a promoter of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa I might be pretty miffed about the way in which the United Way Ottawa CEO evidently portrayed the group’s worth.

This year the United Way allocated only $330,000 to the organization in contrast to the $440,000 it gave last year. But adding insult to injury the UW CEO Michael Allen apparently said to the local press that the group was not able to show measurable results. “They’re not failing . . . there are just other organizations who are doing it more effectively and for a better return on our donor investment.” This departure from vague funder-speak about funding cuts is probably not a good policy to pursue unless the United Way has good cause to believe that the agency deserves less support from the public in general.

All in all there were 55 programs at 37 agencies that received funding cuts.

Elsewhere it was reported that “gay groups are conspicuously absent” from the list of United Way recipients. Here also, the messaging seemed awkward as a spokesperson seemed to play those groups off against others such as Planned Parenthood who were scheduled to receive transition money to ease them out of the funding pool. The spokeswoman said that United Way’s commitment to the transition funds meant others were edged out including gay agencies that scored well in the evaluation process.

"A number of them [queer agencies] are very well positioned – based on what they proposed this year and based on how they were ranked – to receive funding from United Way in the future should they score equally as well as they did in this round," said the spokeswoman.

In NPQ’s humble opinion, this United Way might want to spend a bit more time on messaging as it embarks on the difficult process of publicly communicating a group of funding shifts.—Ruth McCambridge