Question: Where can I find a list of the partner agencies associated with the United Way of Washington County?
Bannon: A listing of our partner agencies can be found on our Web site: www.unitedwaywashcounty.org.
Moderator: Are there any new agencies applying for United Way membership? Can you talk about which ones?
Bannon: At present, there is one local nonprofit, The Walnut Street Community Health Center, which has made application for membership next year. Any 501C3 is encouraged to learn more about United Way and become a partner for improving the quality of life in Washington County.
Moderator: You are a former officer of the Salvation Army, which left the United Way of Washington County some years ago. Is there a possibility that that agency will return to the fold?
Bannon: The Salvation Army is a wonderful charity providing excellent service to citizens of Washington County. The Salvation Army advisory board made a decision that the United Way fundraising blackout period policy was not in their agency's best interests. Of course, any nonprofit can make application to become a United Way partner agency. The Salvation Army advisory board is more than welcome to make application for United Way inclusion if desired.
Moderator: Earlier this week, we published a comment in which a reader expressed distrust of all charitable agencies, saying that when large sums of money are involved, there is always the potential for dipping into the till. How do you reassure people that there are safeguards and that their donations will be well-spent?
Bannon: United Way and our partner agencies apply best practices for accountability to the donor. Every year, an IRS FORM 990 is submitted to the federal government, Department of the Treasury. This statement is open for review by the public by accessing www.guidestar.org, or the donor can come to the United Way office and we will produce requested documents. Every partner agency, and the United Way, maintains an administrative fundraising cost of less than 25 percent as set by the Better Business Bureau.
I am pleased that the United Way of Washington County had an all-time low fundraising and administration cost of 11.3 percent last year. We and our partner agencies have independent boards of directors who are responsible for accountable oversight for every dollar donated. Additionally, an independent audit is performed each year to verify that proper oversight for the United Way and our partner agencies.
Name: Ruth Anne Callaham
Question: Does the local United Way organization focus on accountabilty of quality and effectiveness of the programs funded by our contributions?
Bannon: Accountability of quality and effectiveness for programs offered by our partner agencies is one of the United Way's greatest strengths. An all-volunteer committee allocates resources to our partner agencies for programs which can produce measurable results. It's one thing for a youth agency to have an after-school program. It's another for the youth agency to show us how that after-school program is improving the lives of young people in Washington County. Our partner agencies are not only allocated funds for those programs, but submit quarterly results to the all-volunteer panel.
Moderator: Last year the United Way met its $1.6 million goal with $30,870 to spare. Where is the campaign now and what are the prospects for hitting the $1.7 million goal?
Bannon: To date, we are at 71 percent of this year's campaign goal. While there are still workplaces concluding in the month of December, we have concern that we may not reach goal. We are asking for every citizen and business to consider supporting the campaign through individual or corporate contributions. Many of our businesses postponed early campaigns due to the national response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.