Each year, United Way of Northwest Louisiana receives several inquiries about chain emails or social media graphics/posts regarding the agencies overhead expenses compared to several large national charities.  This statement is to answer some basic information about our agency and to clear up any misleading information that exists.

The United Way of Northwest Louisiana is an independent, separate organization with its own Board of Directors.  Of the 1,800 United Ways in the United States, each controls its own expenses, sets policies, files its own 990, and make all decisions based on its own local community.  Charities apply annually to each United Way and are selected based on a community wide survey of needs and strategic goals set by each Board of Directors in the areas of Education, Financial Stability and Health.  This is a unique thing about the United Way network.  No single charity can solve all the problems that their clients face, but working holistically at a community wide level, the United Way of Northwest Louisiana has a better chance to change the community faster.

For the United Way of Northwest Louisiana, all funds raised here, stay here, unless someone specifies that they want their gift to go to a specific charity (i.e. St. Jude’s, Wounded Warriors, Ronald McDonald House, etc.).  Last year, over $100,000 of these gifts were given out just through that process.  You can find a list of the charities that the United Way of Northwest Louisiana is supporting through both the grant process and direct deposits on our website at:  United Way of NWLA Impact Areas.

Additionally, last year, the United Way of Northwest Louisiana spent 83 cents of every dollar donated on program expenses, debunking the chain email/facebook posts that go around each year.  We were even recognized as the first local charity to be recognized by the BBB of Central Louisiana and the Ark-La-Tex for being one of the best and ethical charities in the community.  This can all be verified utilizing Charity Navigator, an independent organization whose mission is to guide intelligent giving, at:  http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.programs&orgid=14871#.VjFtcGmFPIV

The United Way of Northwest Louisiana has joined with the BBB, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator, in promoting the overhead myth campaign.  Instead of focusing on the percentage of charity’s expenses that go to the administrative and fundraising costs, commonly referred to as “overhead”, we want to educate you to focus on what really matters:  trustworthiness and performance of a charity you are considering supporting.

These items include:

  1. Demonstrating ethical practices and sharing data about performance by informing donors about their goals, strategies, management and governance.
  2. Managing towards results by using performance-based management systems and understanding true costs of achieving their missions.
  3. Educating donors, especially in fundraising materials, about how they accomplish their charity work and not spotlighting financial ratios as a major way to confirm trust.

To learn more about the Overhead Myth campaign or if you have any specific financial questions regarding the United Way of Northwest Louisiana, please reach out to us, at 318-677-2504 x132 or via email at impact@unitedwaynwla.org.