A committee of faculty and staff will ask University Council Wednesday to find a more direct way to donate money to charity from their paychecks. Up until the fall of 1989, employees could volunteer to have part of their pay sent to charity only through the United Way. Since then, the University has added four other organizations to the list. But members of the committee for a Combined Campaign at Penn said yesterday that this system is not the most efficient way to donate to charity. The group has been working for two years to have the University allow direct donations through fundraising groups besides The United Way. The United Way keeps 20 percent of all donations, saying it is used for administrative costs, before passing the remainder on to individual fund-raising organizations. The other four groups also keep a similar percentage. Committee members said that eliminating the United Way as a middle-man would ensure more money went directly to charities. They also said that more employees would choose to donate if there were a more open system. Members are expected to propose a system where employees can choose from several different charities. United Way officials have fought the request, saying they can offer a broader range of alternatives, over 2700 organizations, through their "donor-choice" system. United Way officials also claim that its costs are lower than the other groups. The United Way said in a statement, to be printed in today's issue of Almanac, that the new system would be utilized to allow approved groups "a powerful marketing advantage at the expense of other groups." After the committee and United Way representatives explain their positions at Council, Council representatives are expected to explain the two plans to their constituents. Assistant to the President Nicholas Constan said the University will make a final decision through a referendum this spring. Committee member and Associate Director of Risk Management Jane Combrinck-Graham said the University took a "big step" when it added the four other groups -- Womens Way, United Negro College Fund, Bread and Roses Community Fund, and the Black United Fund -- last year. "This was an incremental step, not the full step that the committee is seeking," Combrinck-Graham said. The new plan would have the University approve several different groups to donate through. "They would have to be consistent with University policy of diversity, pluralism, and fairness," added Combrinck-Graham. "A set of criteria would be set up." Combrinck-Graham said that from 1988 to 1989 donations from University employees increased from $256,000 to $290,000 and "at last count this year was $357,000, well over the $300,000 goal and over 1,000 more people gave money this year." She attributed this rise to a greater freedom of choice for the employees.Comments powered by Disqus
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