Tulsa Area United Way dealing less money

Friday, February 6th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

During hard times, people often rely on the support of charities. But the charities themselves can be victims of a bad economy.

The Tulsa Area United Way announced it has come up short of its projected goals. And they in turn, have had to cut the amount they give to their member agencies.

News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg says the United Way is cutting the amount it can give to member agencies by about 4%.

United Way President Kathleen Coan says people and companies did not contribute as much as they had pledged, which she says can happen for many different reasons, such as when people unexpectedly lose their jobs. "It's laid-off or a company closing or in one instance, it's a company that had decided in the last minute that they weren't going to be able to make a corporate pledge that they'd promised."

68 different agencies rely on the United Way for funding, including the Red Cross, which gets almost half its budget from United Way contributions. Officials there say they'll simply have to find alternatives.

Red Cross spokesperson Camille Sartain: "We'll be relying more than ever, more than in the past on individuals and businesses in those different communities to help us financially at this time."

Coan says the United Way itself has cut 2 people from its staff of 26. And she says she has frozen salaries at current levels. That includes her own salary, which she says board policy prohibits her from discussing, but which a recent newspaper article reported was close to $300,000 in 2002 including benefits.

Coan hopes that making the cuts to agencies early in the year will give them a better chance to compensate. "This way we hope it'll give them time to spread it out across the months."

Although the numbers weren't as much as what they hoped for, United Way officials say they "are" better than last year. So they're hoping the worst of the economic downturn is over.