On Wednesday, November 4, 2015, the Tallahassee Democrat reported United Way of the Big Bend (UWBB) received 29% of State of Florida employee contributions in 2011. This number is misleading and we would like to take this opportunity to provide clarity.

Prior to 2011, United Way of Florida, our state umbrella organization, was awarded the Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign. As the contract administrator, United Way of Florida allowed each local United Way to lead the campaign for state workers in their area. UWBB led the State of Florida’s annual employee giving campaign within our 8-county region. With the bulk of state workers concentrated in our area, we administered 50% of the contract.

As was the case in prior years, UWBB collected 17.5% overhead for every charitable dollar raised. The Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) required that we withhold an additional 1% as part of their administrative fee, leaving the total amount withheld from state employees making a contribution in our area at 18.5%. In 2011, UWBB raised $1.27 million through the Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign and withheld $235,000 or 18.5% of those dollars.

The contract was granted to Solix at the close of the 2012 campaign drive which effectively left UWBB bearing all of the costs of administering the program while Solix’s only responsibility was to collect the money that had been pledged. Recognizing the impact this would have, DMS reimbursed UWBB approximately $53,000 to pay for the costs incurred. However, instead of paying the money out 2012 funds, DMS deducted the money from the 2011 campaign dollars making it appear UWBB charged more than our 17.5% administrative fee.

More on UWBB’s 17.5% Overhead:

While not a traditional business, non-profits are not immune from the costs of overhead. Paying professional staff to fundraise and provide fiscal oversight of our agency partners as well as keeping the lights on are essential costs that every charitable organization incurs – including those you fund directly.

UWBB’s overhead fee is 17.5%. Operations accounts for 8.5% of this amount and the remaining 9% is our cost for fundraising. To put those numbers into perspective, it’s important to understand three important facts.

  1. Our overhead is lower than most charities.
  2. We can raise funds at a lower cost than most non-profits, removing a large and expensive part of our partner agencies’ overhead burden.
  3. An administrative fee can only be charged once. This means that agencies cannot apply their own administrative fee to your UWBB donation. Rather 100% of the money agencies receive from UWBB must go directly to health and human service programs that assist our community’s most vulnerable.

However, UWBB brings more to the table than just dollars.  We live in this community and are committed to the wellbeing our our neighbors. We keep our finger on the pulse of the community and our investors rely on us to not only be good stewards of their charitable dollars, but to also bring together the people, organizations and resources in order to have the greatest impact on our area’s most pressing needs. With our focus on making a positive local impact, investors can rest assured that their money will make a difference right here in the Big Bend.