David Johnson's excellent series on United Way (profiling its operations in April and the piece on the loan scandal) points out how much charities have become like private businesses. Development, marketing, public relations, computer and administrative divisions of the larger charities now crowd out divisions involved in direct aid--this last one at the core of most donors' intentions upon deciding to give to the charity.
Cadillacs, six-figure annual salaries, memberships in discriminatory private clubs, interest-free loans to favored staff, and an aloof attitude have characterized United Way here in Los Angeles for some years.
The only method of changing United Way's corporate behavior is for the public to obtain a list of United Way-supported agencies and begin to directly fund those agencies involved in activities thought to be a priority of each individual donor.
There is a veritable buffet of issues and causes that the hundreds of United Way agencies involve themselves in--corporations involved in mass funding of United Way are more than capable of providing their employees with up-to-date descriptions of each agency and where a check might be sent.
Let's hope that the United Way board gets its act together and remembers that United Way work is charity work, which all of us do expecting to sacrifice comforts we might otherwise earn in the private business world.
RICHARD M. WALDEN