Schuster: It's important to know how Mesa United Way conducts business - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Schuster: It's important to know how Mesa United Way conducts business

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Bob Schuster is a retired journalist and volunteer publicist for Mesa United Way.

Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 7:42 am | Updated: 1:10 pm, Tue Sep 18, 2012.

Most people want to help worthy causes, but many wonder whether their hard-earned dollars are actually going to assist people in need. News reports that some charities have overstated the good they do or used large portions of donors' dollars to pay for administration and fundraising can make us skeptical.

Few of us have the time or expertise to research charitable organizations, including their financial records, to make sure they are what they claim to be. And that is why, as Mesa United Way kicks off our 2012-13 pledge campaign, we think it's important for you to know how we do business.

Many Mesa residents who've worked with us over the years give with confidence because they know: 1) We rigorously research charitable agencies, including making on-site visits and scrutinizing their books, before we write a check, and 2) We ensure every dollar donated to our Community Chest goes to reputable, well-run programs because our overhead and fundraising expenses are paid for by grants and a group of corporate sponsors.

The fund-raising and allocation processes are handled by a professional staff and an active board of directors, and supported by dozens of volunteers -- many of whom, like myself, are retired professionals who want to stay active and give back to the community that has been so good to us.

Mesa United Way's board has set an ambitious goal of $2,825,000 for the campaign because needs in our community are great due to the sluggish economy. Many people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Foster children need clothing and school supplies, and home-bound elderly people need nutritious meals and companionship.

The rest of us should do what we can to help. And if you choose to give to Mesa United Way, you can trust that every dollar you give will go to community organizations with proven track records for helping people in need.

If your company has a United Way workplace campaign, please consider joining it. If it doesn't, please consider organizing one. If you prefer to give independently, you can do that too. Everything you'll need to help lift our community can be found on our website, www.mesaunitedway.org.

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