Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

As you may have seen in the press recently, Planned Parenthood has been under a significant amount of public scrutiny which has raised the question of United Way’s relationship to this organization. We feel compelled to proactively clarify our position on this issue as an independent, local, pro-family organization.

What many people do not realize is that each local United Way, including UWCK, is an independent 501(c)3 organization that could essentially stand on its own as fully functional nonprofit without the United Way membership affiliation. However, being part of the global United Way network not only adds more value to our region than if we tried to operate as a community charity or foundation, but also holds us to an additional set of incredibly rigorous standards of good governance, transparency, and accountability. I share this because the operations of other local United Ways do not impact our funding decisions which are made by our Community Investment Team (CIT) volunteers and Board of Directors. Each United Way works with the local residents to determine needs and make investments that will help their community achieve the goals it has for itself.

Our local CIT has never fielded a request to even consider providing financial support to this organization, which does not have a location in our service area. The only way we ever pass along funding to other independent local United Ways who could make these decisions based on their community needs would be through designations requested by our donors. We have not received a written designation to Planned Parenthood, nor have we directed funds to a United Way outside Kentucky. The “Pro-Life Guide to United Way” compiled by the website 2nd Vote, shows that UWCK has not funded Planned Parenthood, nor is any other local United Way in Kentucky doing so. We encourage you to visit this website to view a third-party source verifying our local stance on this issue.

To illustrate how funds are protected from going to programs that do not drive our local Community Impact goals, here is how the financial relationship between local United Ways and our training and support organization, United Way Worldwide, operates. All local United Ways pay 1 percent of funds raised as a membership fee to United Way Worldwide. What we receive for that payment, in addition to national programs like United Way Born Learning Academies, volunteer initiatives, branding, training, and technical support, is access to numerous fundraising relationships that have been negotiated globally that we can use on a local level. For example, Walmart and UPS are two partners that alone that have agreements in place with United Way Worldwide that allow us to fundraise more effectively than if we tried to knock on these doors for donations at their local stores. Those two relationships alone in our 2014 campaign contributed over $60,000 that we could invest back into our local community. These corporate relationships are managed by the United Way where their company headquarters resides, so while they send us a check for our contributions, the only time we receive money from another United Way is when they are paying out pledges raised in our community or requested by donors to go to UWCK. Again, we have not received a designated pledge to this agency or received a designation to any United Way that funds Planned Parenthood. An official statement from United Way Worldwide verifying that none of our membership dues go into any kind of funding for this organization can be found at http://www.unitedway.org/contact-us/faqs.

So what action should you take as a supporter of UWCK? First, thank you for asking this question so we have the opportunity to provide accurate information. Often the biggest misconceptions about our work occur when assumptions are not made with all the facts, so please openly welcome questions into our operations. If asked, you are welcome to share this information or give out my personal contact information so I can listen to anyone who has concerns. Finally, this is a great opportunity to learn about how our allocations process works, including our unique ability to make an impact based on local needs. You can learn more about our Community Investment process our website at unitedwayck.org.

Our commitment is to being a convener of change for our community, which can only happen if we have a local focus. The message we have heard from our service area is that the core issues that create poverty must be addressed, in addition to meeting the basic needs of those struggling to move out of these situations. Our programs help parents get their children ready for school, provide basic health care for the uninsured, and put them on the path to financial stability so they can support for their families. A full listing of our 34 funded programs can be found on our website http://unitedwayck.org/Funded Agencies.php and none provides reproductive health services. Our allocations process is discussed in depth http://www.unitedwayck.org/how-we-invest if you would like more detail regarding how local funding decisions are made.

I welcome any questions or opportunity we could have to share our work so that we can expand local engagement in our collective efforts to create opportunities that support women and families. Feel free to share my contact information with anyone who may like to learn more.

Best regards,

Megan Stith

President & CEO

United Way of Central Kentucky

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