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Chalk One Up for the Non-profit Little Guy

This week there was a decision made here in Mecklenburg County, NC that most people probably didn’t even hear about and if they did, it most likely didn’t even cause a stir. But for the “little guy” non-profits in the area, it was a victorious week.

On Tuesday evening, the Mecklenburg County Commissioners voted unanimously to open up charitable giving through employee payroll to more non-profits, which until now had only allowed payroll donations to go to the United Way of Central Carolinas and the Arts & Sciences Council.

So you may be asking yourself, why is this so great? First let me preface this by stating that this is not a diatribe against United Way. But rather perspective through the eyes of the organizations I’ve worked for. All three have been local or statewide chapters of national non-profits. While the concept of participating in a federated group such as UW was something we’d either wished to do or had tried, the bottom line was this. The requirements of a member agency were too cumbersome for an office of less than a handful of staff (Ex: Adherence to fundraising blackout dates, required staff participation in UW activities). So it wasn’t lack of desire, but rather a decision not to try in participate if we couldn’t hold up our end of the bargain. In my case, I may be the President & CEO by title, but I’m also the Programs Dir, PR Specialist, Dir of Finance, HR Manager, and at times, the janitor. So no matter how well intentioned, the desire to participate & the ability to do so didn’t go hand in hand.

The end result for organizations like us is to look for the few and far between employee giving programs that were not actually UW campaigns. Of course we always had the possibility of receiving funds through direct designations given to us through UW.  But what so many don’t understand is that we don’t receive 100% of those funds. There’s a percentage taken off for UW processing fees. (Sidebar: While I don’t protest a need for a fee, the amount of that percentage…well…that’s a whole other blog in and of it’s self.)

Lest I digress, I do need to add, that for us, we found a great resource in Community Health Charities, a federation yes, but with a much more user-friendly approach to their member agencies. Still, when only one or two federated groups are allowed in a campaign, we still miss out.

So allow me to loop back around to the County Commissioner’s decision this week. For the first time ever, our little “non-profit that could” has a real chance of connecting further with our supporters who work for the county. And that is music to the ears of an organization with a whole lot of heart & a whole lot of dreams, that just needs the backing to continue to support the amazing growth they are experiencing. Our national CEO says all the time, “No money, no mission” and while the optimist in me is required to test that theory every single day, I feel it’s truth all too well when I look into the eyes of someone we serve and know we could be doing so much more for them. And so it is for those eyes and the eyes of all those my fellow “little guys” serve that I claim Tuesday, July 7th as a day of victory, a day worth celebrating. Thank you to all those that stood up as advocates for us, most specifically the folks at Community Health Charities & Earth Share North Carolina. Finally, thank you to Mecklenburg County for giving us a chance!  My hat is off to you.


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