We, as residents of Chatham-Kent and members of the United Way Board of Directors, would like to respond to the Letter to the Editor from Frank DeBresser which appeared last week in the Wallaceburg Courier Press and Chatham This Week. 

We would like to put to rest any myths and/or misconceptions about United Way’s charitable investments in Chatham-Kent.

As members of the governing body and donors to this local registered charitable organization, we are responsible for oversight of the charity’s policies and procedures. We set the strategic direction for the organization in fulfillment of the organization’s mission, approve the management budget and establish salary ranges and benefits for all United Way staff members.

 Our Human Resources and Compensation Committee ensures that our CEO’s salary and benefits are comparable to United Ways of similar size and to other local individuals who do similar work in our community. 

While the actual salaries of our United Way employees are a personal matter, we can unequivocally say that no employee of United Way of Chatham-Kent earns a salary in excess of $100,000.  We pay a modest amount (.75% of our announced campaign achievement) to our National Office for the use of the United Way name, logo and research support. 100% of the dollars raised in Chatham-Kent (except for donor-directed gifts) stay in Chatham-Kent. No charitable dollars raised in our local communities are forwarded to pay the salary of Mr. Brian Gallagher who currently serves as CEO of United Way Worldwide – the world’s largest ($5.2 Billion) privately funded non-profit organization. 

Negative comments and dissemination of incorrect information about our organization – in the midst of our annual fund-raising campaign – have the potential to discourage those who are undecided about whether to give – and sway traditional donors to question their ongoing support.  This is disturbing – particularly in view of the fact that our community’s most vulnerable citizens are in critical need of the human and social services provided by the members of our family of agencies. 

United Way of Chatham-Kent spent 17.5% of the announced campaign achievement in 2012 on local management and fund-raising costs – a substantial amount below the 35% referenced as acceptable by the Canada Revenue Agency. We believe that the more important question for Mr. DeBresser to be asking is “What does United Way do with my charitable gifts?”

 Our United Way began a new role in 1997, transforming from traditional fund-raiser to community impact organization.  Simply put, it is our objective to bring the business, government and voluntary sectors of our communities together to achieve well-being for everyone in Chatham-Kent. 

This is our new community impact work.  Our organization’s staff have been instrumental in the establishment of numerous local organizations and initiatives – including, but not limited to, the Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village, Operation Red Nose (now Home James), Operation Cover-Up, BackPacks for Kids, NeighbourLink, Habitat for Humanity, Women’s Leadership Council, Prosperity Roundtable and 211.  Our staff have assisted community partners in the writing of successful grant applications focused on poverty reduction, drug awareness, neighbourhood revitalization, youth engagement and community mobilization for crime prevention.  In addition, they serve on a number of local planning bodies and committees – many outside of “company time” and are passionate advocates for the public benefit – or voluntary – sector. 

Because of our large geographic area, we have established outreach, store-front offices in both Wallaceburg and Tilbury.  “The 425”- United Way’s Centre for Community Innovation on McNaughton Avenue in Chatham is home to several other local charitable organizations, nonprofits and government-funded initiatives – offering shared human, financial and physical services – generating significant cost savings for these entities.

 As stewards of the public purse, we trust that the above information will allay any fears that traditional and prospective donors may have about the wise investment of charitable gifts entrusted to our care.  And in order to demonstrate our transparency and accountability, we invite any additional questions that this response may elicit. 

Please give generously to this year’s United Way Campaign.  We cannot build community without you!

 President:  Tony Walsh

Vice-President:  Alison Patrick

Treasurer:  Julie Faas

 

Directors:  Deb Crawford, Kate DoForno, Scott Ewing, Mike Korpan, Florin Marksteiner, Jeff McFadden, John Neville, Dipti Patel, Marlee Robinson, Kathy Smyth.