Non-United Way Work Giving Programs More Successful

September 5, 2003 ( - With workplace giving donations to charity drives other than the United Way up 36% between 1996 and 2001, a new report by a Washington, DC-based charity trade group calls for employers to open their doors to more "alternative funds."

When they allow other charity organizations to ask their workers for donations, however, the companies need to make sure those groups have accounting practices that are transparent and uniform, the Giving at Work 2003 report found. The survey was released by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) and the National Alliance for Choice in Giving.

“The growing alternative funds movement has come into its own as an important complement to traditional workplace charity drives,” Kevin Ronnie, NCRP director of field operations and project coordinator for the report said in a statement. “When employees have a fuller range of charitable choices in the workplace, they can more easily support organizations engaged not only in direct-service oriented charity but also those working to create lasting, positive social change.”

According to the survey, employees in workplace giving campaigns pledged more than $222 million to the alternative funds during 2001. By comparison, NCRP said the 36%-advance for alternative funds between 1996 and 2001 was way ahead of the 24%-hike in United Way giving by individual donors in the same period.

As a result of the alternative funds’ growth, the NCRP said other charity organizations are mimicking the alternative funds – particularly in offering more donor choice of the charity target or in accounting transparency. “These changes are by no means industrywide, however, nor are they taking place with any significant speed,” the NCRP report cautioned. Not only that, but the alternative funds are making inroads into more different types of industries as well as into the public sector and are also being called on to manage as well participate in workplace giving efforts.

The NCRP recommended that more employers consider bringing the alternative funds into their workplace after making sure their accounting habits are transparent and uniform. “The success of these funds indicates that they are meeting a need that had previously gone unmet by the traditional (workplace giving program) model,” the report said. “Since donors clearly support these funds, employers should welcome them into the workplace.”

Generally, NCRP reported that United Way was facing an anemic growth rate in workplace giving during the 1996 to 2001 period among donors pledging less than $1,000 annually with a tiny 0.46% increase. In the decade between 1991 and 2001, that figure dropped 9%. As a result, the NCRP report said that the United Way was instead focusing more on high-ticket givers above $1,000 annually. Among those giving $1,000 to $10,000, United Way saw a 218% leap while those pledging more than $10,000 increased by 418%.

The full report is available at .