One of the four organizations allowed to directly solicit Salt Lake County employees for donations may be getting the boot because its administrative costs are too high.
Community Shares, a nonprofit fund-raising group, has been soliciting county employees in the Charitable Giving Campaign since 1990. Groups like the Homeless Children's Foundation, People With Aids Coalition and Rocky Mountain Search Dogs, all under the umbrella of Community Shares, were able to solicit about 4,000 county employees."These are agencies that would be nowhere without the help from Community Shares," said Lynne Brandley, director of Community Shares.
On Monday, the Salt Lake County Executive Council, an advisory board to the County Commission, voted to recommend the county sever its six-year tie to Community Shares.
A county ordinance sets a 25 percent limit for administrative costs for any group soliciting county employees. The way county officials look at the numbers, Community Shares spent more than 37 percent of its budget on administrative costs last year - printing and distributing pamphlets, paying an accountant and paying Brandley a $30,000 salary.
Brandley said it's a difference of interpretation. She contends the organization is well under the county limit - at about 15 percent of its budget for administrative costs.
"They're lumping printing costs and accounting costs into administrative. All we do in Community Shares is fund-raise. We have no assets," said Brandley, who runs the program from her home. "If the county bans us, this is a big hurt for us."
Four organizations were authorized to solicit employees.
In 1996, 211 employees pledged $14,779 to the United Way, 89 employees pledged $5,772 to Community Shares, 139 employees pledged $7,527 to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Caring Program and 55 employees pledged $3,387 to United Health Appeal.
In the past, county employees could check a box and the money, deducted from their paychecks or given directly, went to one of the more than 20 organizations under the umbrella of Community Shares.
Last year, the organization collected about $6,000 of its $166,000 worth of pledges from Salt Lake County employees. The money went to 22 organizations. This year, nine more organizations have been added to the list.
Brandley said the administrative costs and her salary are the bare minimums and that the whole process is a "vehicle to get money to the agencies."