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Show Me The Money!

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Well JS (see email below)... While the numbers in the frantic email (see below) have been slightly inflated, there is plenty of fire under the smoke. One thing the United Way has never liked is to account for 'where the money goes'. How much is spent on overhead in Real Dollars, and how much actually goes to those that need it. They prefer to deal in percentages and vague terms that could mean almost anything. Wading through the Organization's financial reports on its website can make you cross-eyed. But that's OK, they also say they support medical aid associations that can take care of that.

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly recently promised on a segment on his show to attempt to force the United Way to account for 87 Million donated so far (not the one billion cited in the email, that's the pledge estimate). See story at Fox News. So at least that part of the email is true. And... in this case, that's enough.

To be honest. The Desk is no big fan of the United Way. Not since the 'Bill Aramony' scandal a few years ago, in which the National Figurehead lived a lavish lifestyle at the organization's expense. At least he did until he began his Seven Year Federal Prison Sentence. Also, the United Way spends far too much of its donations on advertising and commercials to raise more donations for the Desk's taste. We won't talk about how many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year they still pay their CEO and board members.

Which is where the difference becomes glaringly apparent between the United Way and the Red Cross.

On the American Red Cross's website, they beat you over the head with their current financial statement before they even let you in. Whether or not the numbers are based on anything in the Real World is anybody's guess, but at least they put them right up front where you can peruse them at your leisure.

So, there you have it.

The First Rule of Political Investigative Reporting is... FOLLOW THE MONEY. And it applies here as well.

Hold the United Way's feet to the fire and make them account for the money BEFORE you sign up for this year's Payroll Deduction campaign.

Obviously there are Many Millions of REAL Dollars flowing here and there. And it would be real easy for a couple of thousand to come up missing and not be noticed for a few years, maybe even a couple of Hundred Thousand. OK, this is America. We EXPECT bureaucrats in both the Public and Private Sectors to abscond off with some of the money. But this time, we are talking about a cash flow that is greater than the GNP of nearly three-quarters of the countries in the world. The potential for massive embezzlement that may never come to light is astounding.

And given the United Way's penchant for keeping its books close to the vest... NOW might be a good time to demand a full accounting and an explanation about why some families are still waiting for Dollar One from them while Bruce Springsteen's event passed out its funds That Night to those that needed it.

In any case... Thanks JS from California for the tip.

But, please, DON'T pass on the SPAM. Write your own letter and make your own phone call to Congress and the United Way until they come clean. Thank you.


Name: JS
City/State: Los Gatos, CA
How Found: Search Engine
Message: Thanks for the great job of letting us know if messages are legit or not. Can you tell me if this one is a hoax? I got it from three people today so its circulating. Thx again, JS

      "At the latest count, over 1 billion dollars has been raised by donations of the public in the name of helping firefighters, police and other victims of the 9-11 emergencies in NYC and Washington, DC. There are about 6000 victims.
      $1,000,000,000 / 6000 = $167,000 per family of each victim.
      Less than $3000 per family has been given out or allocated by these do good organizations. As was reported on the O'Reilly report, organizations like United way have not given any money at all even though they have collected $150 million in the name of the victims. They said that they will keep (withhold) 15% of the total monies for their efforts of collecting the money and only pass 85% down to other organizations who will also withhold some percentage of the money for their administrative costs like salaries, offices, utilities and other operational costs of those charities. SO this crisis is Christmas for these organizations.
      I am outraged at this so I am calling my senator and representative to demand a governmental inquiry and accounting. In my opinion this is a much bigger deal than the few gas stations who have spiked prices immediately following the attacks. Please do your part and start to ask where is the money? Who got it, where, when and why?
      At the same time that some organizations have become unduly rich over this, most other philanthropic organizations have become poor and report that they have not received donations since Sept 11th.
      Rush Limbaugh, Oprah and O'Reilly have said they will stick with this story until all the money is accounted for, but it is clear that it is not going where we had intended it go.


[End of email]
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