Last April we learned that United Way Ottawa had decided to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Which is a good thing.
So I thought I'd just make sure that this was in fact the case, and I sent an email to United Way and asked the following questions:
1) Does United Way fund Planned Parenthood, and if so, how much? Your website says that you do still fund Planned Parenthood.
2) Does United Way fund other organizations that supports or procures abortions? If so, how much?
My first email resulted in the following response from an unnamed person:
"I would like to direct your inquiry to the appropriate person. Can you tell me if you are a donor or inquiring as a member of the public or someone from the media?"
That's odd I thought, why did it matter who I was? Would I get a different response depending on my answer to that question?
Then I heard from their Media Manager. He and I proceeded to exchange a series of emails, played some telephone tag, but I still had no answers to my questions. I got the distinct impression he didn't want to provide an answer in writing; he said he would, but he never did.
So I sent a letter to the President and CEO and asked him my questions.
You know, it seems rather ridiculous that it was this difficult to get a straight answer. You'd think a charity as big as the United Way, that collects millions of dollars every year, would welcome questions about how those charitable donations are spent, and which organizations receive the money. It would have taken a couple of minutes to write up the answers in an email response to me. And in the end I did receive my answer.
Here it is:
"Re. Question 1:
In 2010, we provided $47,281 to Planned Parenthood for their "Community Education Program" (note we do not fund agencies per se, but we do fund their programs). This program recruits and trains volunteers to deliver workshops and to staff kiosks on sexual and reproductive health issues for youth and adults. The workshops are available to schools and community organizations. If you'd like more information on the program, the community investment directory linked to our home page provides a more complete description.
We announced last year that we were sharpening our focus and working with the community to achieve clear, measurable goals. This led to an open and competitive Call for Proposals that invited agencies to submit proposals for United Way support of programs and initiatives that contribute to the achievement of these goals. At the time, we also made a commitment to provide transition funding to previously-funded programs that would not be supported in 2011 through the Call for Proposals. This was intended to help ease the transition for agencies whose programs we funded in the past. Transition funding is at 50 per cent or less of the previous year's funding, based on a range of factors.
In 2011, we will provide transition funding to Planned Parenthood's Community Education Program. I can't yet say what the amount will be, as we do not yet have a signed funding agreement. The amount will be 50 per cent or less of last year's funding.
Re. Question 2:
To the best of my knowledge, we are not funding any programs that have as a mandate the procurement of abortions."
Two interesting things here.
First, note the "note we do not fund agencies per se, but we do fund their programs".
Frankly, saying United Way does not fund agencies "per se" is absurd. Either United Way gave money to a group that advocates for abortion, or United Way did not give money to a group that advocates for abortion. And United Way clearly did give money to Planned Parenthood.
Second, surprise...in 2011 Planned Parenthood will be getting approximately 50% of last year's funding.
I didn't see that tidbit in the news, did you?