Johns Hopkins Gazette: November 3, 1997

United Way:
Agencies Must
Prove They Are
"Good Stewards" of

Pat Day has spent 15 years carefully watching where United Way contributions go.

Day, a senior director of human resources, got involved with the United Way even before she came to Hopkins 12 years ago. While still at the University of Maryland in 1981, she helped out as a loaned executive in the United Way campaign. There, she became interested in how contributions were allotted and volunteered to help decide funding levels for agencies.

The Johns Hopkins United Way Campaign has raised $1,285,000
86.3 percent of the combined goal of $1,489,000.

Money from United Way contributors is allocated in a multichanneled process. Contributors can designate funds to the campaign in general, to a specific agency, or to a broad area of need--child care, for instance, or adult learning or family services.

Next, a group of volunteers from the allocation committee meets with people from the agency. "We look over the agen-cy's goals and see how well they've been met," Day said. "If they've been good stewards of the previous year's finances, we see that they get renewed funding."

The United Way undertakes periodic reassessments of community needs and agency priorities. The allocation committees face difficult choices if two good programs serving a specific age group or geographic area need funding. Drawing on the views of volunteers, agency personnel and the career staff, they look for needs that aren't being met by existing programs. Until recently, for instance, child care was part of the family preservation sector. Now, it is a separate area, not in competition with family preservation programs.

Agencies have to keep on their toes as well. If an evaluation finds that a program is no longer in a priority area or if it is not functioning successfully, the allocation committee reduces funding, Day said. "We have to send a message that they're not meeting the needs we're funding and will have to cut back."

This accountability to both contributors and the community appeals to Day as much as the chance to become personally involved with United Way agencies. She pointed out that opportunities exist for volunteer work as well as financial contributions. Hopkins staff members, she said, join with students to teach in the Greater Homewood Association's literacy program for adults.

"People can volunteer anywhere," Day said. "In the campaign itself, in the allocation process, or directly helping people in need. Volunteering for the United Way is extremely rewarding and I would encourage everyone to try it."
--Aaron Levin

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