Wednesday, December 7, 2016

United Way of Greater Topeka Suffers $1.3 Million Operating Loss in 2014

United Way of Greater Topeka has suffered operating losses in recent years.

United Way's total revenues have fallen from $6.9 million in 2013 to $5.6 million in 2014. The organization suffered an operating loss of -$1.3 million in 2014, according to its Form 990 tax return.

There is a 2015 Form 990, but it only runs for a half year; nevertheless, the organization had posted a $1 million loss in the first six months of 2015, according to its tax returns at

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that United Way of Greater Topeka's top executives resigned effective immediately. Miriam Krehbiel resigned her position as CEO and president, and Kim Ribelin resigned as vice president of resource development, the newspaper reported.

The local United Way's total expense for salaries and benefits was $1,008,406 in 2013. Total expense for wages, salaries, employee benefits grew to $1.18 million in 2014. 

Krehbiel’s total compensation in 2013 was $128,173. That year revenues were $6.9 million, with total expenses of $6.6 million, with a $270,985 net gain (profit).

In 2014, total revenue was $5.6 million, expenses were $6.9 million, with a -$1.3 million loss. Krehbiel's compensation was $129,222. 

In recent years, United Way changed the way it distributes grants. Historically, donors got to choose which charities they want to support. However, in recent years, the organization changed focus to supporting projects to implement change in the community. The top three areas of focus are improving education, financial stability and health care. 

Donors have struggled to understand how this works. I think it’s easier for a donor to say I want to support Girl Scouts, or Housing & Credit Counseling. But now United Way is choosing how to use donor money to support education, financial stability and health care. With the change, it’s difficult to measure whether United Way’s efforts are actually working or making a difference.

The United Way's mission statement on its tax return says: "We create positive, sustainable change in our community. We work to solve issues no single donor, charity or government agency can handle alone. By focusing on education, financial stability, and health, we help more children graduate and get stable jobs, help families become financially stable and improve the overall health of our community."

Oh really? It seems to me there is more work being done in our local schools than in the UW to help more kids graduate from high school. The chamber and Go Topeka are more equipped to create jobs than the UW is. I think Housing & Credit Counseling, local financial advisors and Dave Ramsey programs in our churches do more to help people gain financial stability.

The UW's mission statement seems like a top-down, push-down into our community that doesn't really match the charitable giving style of Topeka.

I've heard plenty of United Way presentations over the years. After the change was made in recent years, I heard a presentation that sounded nebulous. The presenters could hardly make sense of it, let alone the people they were trying to convince.

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