ADA — In the past, United Way has not enforced its own rule limiting member agencies from soliciting funds directly from businesses, but according to Latricia Bryant, local United Way executive director, that’s about to change.

“As we have met our increasing fund-raising goals, major contributing businesses have asked us to enforce the ‘no direct soliciting rule’ to minimize the constant funding requests they receive from our member agencies,” Bryant said.

Todd Allen, Ada Forget-Me-Not Floral, said he wasn’t aware of United Way’s policy limiting member agencies fund-raising to once a year, or that they have been instructed not to solicit donations from local businesses. “I give my check once a year in support of the community through United Way, and I expect and trust that they will see that each member agency gets what they need,” Allen said.

Allen said he understands there is overhead involved in operating United Way and their member agencies. “What I don’t understand is, why limit fund-raising? How are they supposed to get the money they need? I don’t have a problem with agencies asking me for donations. I give when I can, what I can. I can always say ‘no,’” he said.

Bryant said the intent is not to prevent businesses from giving voluntarily. “In no way are we trying to prevent businesses that want to voluntarily contribute to United Way member agencies from doing so. That’s their prerogative. All we are doing is asking member agencies to limit their direct solicitations of businesses to one time a year,” she said.

Bryant said this does not apply to agencies selling products. “Popcorn sold by the Boy Scouts, for example, is not subject to this rule because they are providing a product,” she said. “Our rule targets solicitations directed at businesses in which no product is involved.”

Jim Begin, of Ada Area Youth Shelter, is very appreciative of efforts of Ada Regional United Way and feels that their campaigns have worked well. “The amount the youth shelter receives has grown sevenfold over the years, which is a good indicator that the United Way campaign strategy is working,” Begin said. He feels that what members agree to when applying for United Way funding is very plain and they all understand up front what is expected.

“Our relationship with United Way has not changed,” said Capt. Jeff Daniel, Salvation Army. “They account for 6 percent of our total budget. It will definitely make it more difficult for us to be limited to one fund-raising event. They are telling us we have to choose.” Normally the Salvation Army has two large drives, one at Thanksgiving and one for Christmas, and several mailouts during the year to an established donor base. The Salvation Army board are in the process of evaluating their options to see what fund-raising will be done.

From AACES, Ada Area Community Emergency Services, Director Gayla Callaway said they are relatively new as a member of United Way which has helped them in building their visibility in the community. “Our alliance with United Way is one we intend to maintain.” said Callaway. The AACES program has picked up where Helping Hands left off in providing temporary shelter for those in emergency need. They provide more than a room and meals by helping people transition into permanent housing by breaking the cycle through client education and changing learned behaviors. One goal of AACES is to eventually build an emergency shelter, which is estimated to cost around $300,000. Callaway feels strongly that each member agency of United Way is extremely critical in meeting the needs of the community.

Jenny Cypert, local United Way board member, said board members have offered to visit member agencies’ board meetings to explain why they have asked them not to solicit businesses. “We don’t want to lose any of them over the limitations, but we don’t want to risk losing the business support of those major contributors that are constantly being solicited either.” Cypert said Ada Regional United Way’s only purpose is to fund the agencies.