Archive for Friday, April 13, 2012

United Way agencies facing dramatic funding changes

April 13, 2012


A new philosophy by the United Way of Douglas County has caused 2012 funding amounts for several local social service agencies to swing wildly, with some agencies seeing funding changes of about $100,000.

Officials with the United Way recently announced their 2012 funding allocations, and now several agencies are making midyear budget adjustments to reflect new funding realities.

“It is a big change for several organizations,” said Erika Dvorske, executive director of the local United Way. “We’ve asked our volunteers to really look through a whole new lens when it comes to allocating funding.”

Dvorske said the United Way board was asked to not consider past amounts an organization received in funding, but rather to make all allocation decisions based on how an organization’s programs fit into one of three community goals: improving education, self-sufficiency and health.

The new process produced some dramatic changes for organizations. The Ballard Center saw the largest decline in funding, losing about $102,000 in United Way funding compared with 2011. Dianne Ensminger, president and CEO of Ballard, said the loss of funding most greatly will affect the agency’s emergency utility and rent assistance program.

“We know the United Way is working to do what is most appropriate with its new funding model, but it is still disappointing to experience a significant decrease in funding,” Ensminger said.

She said the United Way funding accounted for about half of the emergency rent and utility assistance program. She said the economy has caused demand for such assistance to increase.

“We are seeing more and more families that are ending up at the lake or living out of cars because they can’t get the assistance they need,” Ensminger said.

Ensminger said the Ballard Center is working to conduct more fundraising and will hope Douglas County commissioners can provide an increase in funding for the organization in 2013.

The Lawrence-based Success by 6 Coalition received the largest funding increase, receiving approximately $138,000 more than it did in 2011. Rich Minder, projects coordinator for Success by 6, said the new funding will allow the organization to greatly expand the training and assistance it provides to early childhood education centers in Douglas County.

Minder estimated the organization would be able to provide assistance — everything from direct grants for child-care centers to coaching programs for teachers — to 11 additional early-childhood education centers in 2012.

“In 10 years, I really do believe that anybody in Douglas County who has children zero to 6 years old, and who needs child care in order to work, can be guaranteed high-quality, affordable child care,” Minder said. “We really can get there, and this is a step in that direction.”

But Dvorske said she recognizes the new funding model may mean difficulties for some agencies. Several “safety net” type of organizations saw funding declines, including a $41,000 cut to the The Salvation Army, a $24,000 cut to the American Red Cross and a $23,000 cut to Headquarters Counseling Center. But Dvorske said the United Way was still committed to funding safety net programs. She pointed to a $60,000 increase for the Just Food program, which provides food to people in need.

Dvorske said the new funding system by United Way ultimately will help local nonprofits work together and will allow the community to better track the progress of important community goals. But she also said United Way board members recognize the funding program will leave gaps in important community services.

“We absolutely have a concern that all the needs in the community are not being met,” Dvorske said. “That was true before this change and will be true after it. But we believe how we address those unmet needs are through coordination, planning and setting some goals.”


Steve Jacob 6 years, 2 months ago

Basically the more your charity has to do with kids, the more you got?

cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

I've contributed generously to the United Way for many years, but this may be the last. There is no organization in Lawrence that more directly benefits the needy than the Ballard Center, which was established by Petey Cerf four decades ago. Who gets how much United Way funding has in recent years been greatly affected by the current fad of measuring "outcomes" (which can't be measured in the first place), and the age-old proposition of who knows who on the United Way board. As a result, I'm ready to cut loose.

fanofKU 6 years, 2 months ago

And, should! It would be interesting to see how much of the United Way donations are used for administrative expenses. Did this allocation committee REALLY know what they were doing? Everyone who gave to the United Way because they fund so many organizations should quit giving and give their money directly to the organization. There is NO need for the middle man. Not only did the organizations get ripped off, the donor did as well.

The United Way should be ashamed!!!

ECM 6 years, 2 months ago

You can find out how almost any charity spends your money by looking at Charity The national office of UW reports that 90.6% of every dollar goes to the charity, while the KC UW office reports that 88.7%.

I prefer that 100% of my donation reach my charities of choice which is why I give directly vs. a organization like UW

Sherry Warren 6 years, 2 months ago

Me too. I have worked directly with UW and it was a disappointment. I have worked with several agencies that have directly benefited from UW funds and some have been great, some worked the politics and were terrible at running their agencies but were well-funded. I am sick to death of their campaign, and how they manipulate so many employers into bullying their employees to give to UW too. Sorry to hear that Ballard will struggle more from this. They do some great work.

thinkagain 6 years, 2 months ago

I hope the social service agencies and the families who need these services recognize that this is an opportunity to help realign thinking on the financial assistance. It would be much better if families paid their rent and utilities FIRST and the agencies helped with things like gas vouchers, car repair and micro loans with much lower interest rates than payday loans which suck the life out of working poor families.

sourpuss 6 years, 2 months ago

The United Way is a charitable middle man and they must necessarily take a cut of your donation before passing it on. Donate directly to causes you support and try to divide your donation between local, state, and national/global charities. You can also volunteer your TIME.

sciencegeek 6 years, 2 months ago

So you donate to the United Way, and THEN they decide that THEY will change where they put YOUR money? Yeah, right. One more reason not to give to the United Way. Donate direct to the charity of your choice and skip the officious, overpaid middleman.

youngjayhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

I agree with many of the above posts. I stopped giving to the United Way years ago; mainly, because I resented being told by my employer that I had to give. I give to community charities of my choice throughout the year and feel much better about it.

Bigdog66046 6 years, 2 months ago

Doesnt anybody else feel that we have WAY to many charities? Wouldn't things be much more efficent if when someone needed help or welfare they all went to ONE place. That way we only have one set of staff, one large building and dont have people abusing all the charities? ALOT of people take "help" and abuse the many diffrent groups. We need ONE place and ONE set of administrators for all "charity", would save alot of money and get help to those who truly need it! Not 15 groups that all have rent/ payroll etc. for the same thing!

Sherry Warren 6 years, 2 months ago

Hey LJ World, any chance you can get your hands on all the cuts and increases to share with us? Or point us to a URL that will tell us? I am curious about what agencies are considered to promote improving education, self-sufficiency and health. And how are they measuring "self-sufficiency"?

Romans832 6 years, 2 months ago

I can't find a way to provide a link, but if you can get into the Green ed. (or find a print copy), look on page 2, bottom left. There is a list of each agency and how much they lost or gained, in terms of dollars.

Catalano 6 years, 2 months ago

The list was in the hard copy of today's paper, but it didn't indicate which of the three areas each group fell into.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 2 months ago

you got my vote for the most ignorant, ill formed and just plain silly post of the day.

You are a joke.

Loretta James 6 years, 2 months ago

Dianne and ballard do a great job. Ballard has other agiencies under their umbrella Penn House and a day care program from edgewood she does a great job keeping all things running she is also a great fundraiser herself. I hate to see the utility and rent assistance programs cut because the low income in lawrence is the ones that will be affected. Keep up the good work guys.

Loretta James, Retired volunteer of 16 years at Penn House

deec 6 years, 2 months ago

The success by 6 website is a joke. The "current news" is a press release from 2008. I wonder which will have a greater impact on a child's school success: having some educator come to the home and teach parents how to parent; or having a roof over their head and food in their belly? The mission statement is typical educationalese, lots of meaningless phrases all strung together to sound important. And it won;t matter if the children are ready for success when they get to school since the schools are being defunded, and jobs are leaving the country. From the press release aka current news from four years ago "Finally the block grant funds a program to support the development of “soft skills” that our future workforce will need to be productive in the workplace. " In other words, the grant funds brainwashing children to be good little workers and consumers.

Katara 6 years, 2 months ago

Just realize that Rich Minder is involved and that should explain why it is such a joke.

I had a conversation with him when full day Kindergarten was being introduced.He was convinced that it would reduce childcare expenses for working families. That man could not be more wrong. It just increases the need for before and after school childcare which is difficult to obtain. And in many cases, the cost for part-time daycare is not less than full-time daycare.

He just didn't understand that many working families have to leave the home to get to work way before the school bell and that many are not home until well after school.

thinkagain 6 years, 2 months ago

The money given to Boys and Girls should benefit families such as yours who need more programs that provide before and after school care and not than full day Kindergarten.

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