Dr. Dawg

Ottawa: Big Charity loses its (united) way

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United way or lost its way.jpg

Planned Parenthood. City for All Women. STORM, which reaches out to sex trade workers. Minwaashin Lodge. The Elizabeth Fry immigrant women program. Mothercraft. The Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre. The OCISO multicultural family program. YMCA/YWCA’s child care support programs.

All have been delisted from United Way Ottawa under Michael Allen, the CEO of UWO and a veteran Conservative player. All of them are service organizations focusing on the special needs of women. As blogger Aalya Ahmad notes:

[T]he list of defunded organizations goes on and is starting to look disturbingly like the types of groups that have been targeted by the federal Harper government: namely, groups and services that work on equity issues and support women’s and girls’ empowerment.


United Way was formed so that various largely volunteer social service groups living on shoestring budgets would not have to compete against each other, but join together in a cooperative fundraising drive. Today, in Ottawa, the agency has become increasingly top-down, a small Executive making policy decisions without anything approaching genuine community consultation. Last year it kept 28% of what it pulled in for administrative costs and internal programs. And it sucks up nearly 20ยข of every charity dollar designated to specific groups by donors.

No one is advocating a boycott of UWO, of course—many worthy groups still receive funding through this central fundraising body. You might prefer, however, to donate directly to the delisted organizations, avoiding the high UWO administrative costs.

UWO has gone badly off the rails, and the community is starting to react against the increasing corporatization of the agency. You can join others taking action here, and I encourage you to do so. Let’s send UWO a message it can no longer ignore: our community, not the agenda of a tiny corporate-minded clique, must come first.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 27, 2011 1:59 PM.

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