The United Way is using practices "both fair and foul" to "monopolize solicitation of employes at the workplace," according to a report released yesterday by the National Commission on Neighborhoods.
The report urged employes to boycott United Way campaigns, "where necessary," as a protest against the organization's alleged monopoly on corporate charitable fund-rising. It also called for the "repeal" of United Way policies "which insist on a monopoly of workplace solicitation."
The report was prepared for the commission by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a Washington-based civil rights and social research group that has been critizing United Way solicitation practices for the past two years. The 60-member neighborhood commission was established by Ocngress in April, 1977 and members were appointed by President Carter.
United Way affiliates "have presented themselves to the public in their annual fall advertising campaigns if they were the only charity drive to meet all charities' needs," the report said. But in fact, the organization is an exclusionary group, designed to keep out most neighborhood groups and smaller charities, according to the report.
"United Ways [affiliates] ... have never become such an all-embracing fund-rising federation. But they have presented themselves to the public" as such, the report said.
The report, partly based on 40 "in-depth telephone interviews with private sector donors and neighborhood organization leaders," said the United Way's advertising slogan-"It works for all of us"-has encouraged corporate, union and government donors "to resist requests by other charities to be permitted to solicit at the workplace."
The campaign also encourages corporate and other institutional supervisors to "pressure" the employes to meet the United Way's "fair share" giving goals, the report charged.
United Way officials strongly denied the allegations.
"We neither control payroll deductions, nor do we exclude other organizations from seeking payroll deductions," said United Way of America senior vice president Robert Beggan.
Beggan said most corporations usually choose to give to the United Way, which last year raised over $1.2 billion nationally, "because we're an open system-we're accountable."
"We allocate money [to member charities] on need not on emotion," Beggan continued. "There's a finite amount of money available and an infinite amount of need, and we have to be careful."
He said his organization tried to work with officials of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, but was rebuffed.
"Instead of responsive or responsible philanthropy, they give us irresponsible critism," he said. He said he would like to meet with Responsive Philanthropy representatives in a public forum "to openly discuss this issue which they have been pushing."