It’s time to fix MUFFY.
Not too many years ago the annual drive used to hold its wrap-up meeting in December and close the drive on Dec. 31. Not too many years ago, drives that ended with more than half a million dollars were the norm. Not too many years ago the following year’s drive team was in place before the last cork had popped on the New Year’s Eve celebration.
Not so much anymore.
The MUFFY 2016 campaign wrapped up last week with another disappointing outcome. The drive officially finished at $415,000 – well short of the announced goal of $435,000.
It’s disappointing when considering the following facts:
• From 1997 to 2007 the drive topped $500,000 nine times.
• Since 2008, no drive has topped $470,000. One year was under $385,000. And one year, there was not a campaign chairperson.
• As late as 2005, campaigns were wrapped up in December, not allowed to linger for months.
• Last year, at least one MUFFY board member said that the 2016 drive would get back to ending in December.
Look, I’m a big United Fund fan; always have been since the days when legendary editor Marlis Gaildene Hamilton would look us young pups in the eye and ask if we wanted to be the only one in the newsroom NOT supporting our local charities! Later, when one newspaper company was silly enough to entrust me with their operations, I saw exactly how important United Funds and United Ways are. They provide the funding so that a lot of great agencies have the ability to do phenomenal work.
So lest anyone think this is – in any way, shape or form – an attempt to disparage MUFFY or its wonderful mission, think again. It ain’t.
This my friends, pure, plain and simple, is just one guy’s opinion. That and somewhere north of $3 will get you a cup of overpriced coffee at Starbucks.
Let’s begin with the mission. MUFFY got its start back in 1970. I was in high school and not present, but my understanding is that MUFFY was formed so that money could be raised and distributed to the eligible agencies. Perhaps my understanding is wrong, and if so, it wouldn’t be the first mistake I made . . . today. But for now, I’m going on that premise – that MUFFY is here to raise money and the agencies are here to put it to good use.
I think this is the first disconnect – and it’s an important one. It seems to me that MUFFY is getting more and more into – for lack of a better term – programming. I believe that’s wrong. MUFFY does not have the staffing or enough time to determine how best to use the money. That’s where agencies come in. Agencies have staffs and boards for that process. The heavy lifting falls on them. Is it a perfect answer? No, but nothing ever is.
Again, just my two cents (that’s why the column’s named that way), but if MUFFY spends resources on anything other than raising money, logic follows that fund-raising takes a hit. Conversely, some can argue that MUFFY needs to ensure the money is used well. Maybe. But isn’t that what the allocation process is used for?
Next comes organization – or rather lack of. Too often in times past, selecting the drive team has not been complete by year end. It’s hard to hit the ground running, do team-building exercises and get everyone excited about the drive when there is no team. This isn’t complicated and needs to be rectified sooner rather than later.
Look, there’s actually a lot of things that we could get into, but that’s not today’s point. Today, I’m hoping that the powers that be (MUFFY staff and board) start a conversation about going forward. What’s the right strategy? What’re the right practices? How can we exceed $500K nine times in 11 years (and now have to extend drives in order to get over $400,000)? In short, how can MUFFY raise enough money so that the agencies have the tools to do the work they do so well?
If MUFFY wants to spend time on things other than raising money, then expect agencies to have to resort to more fund-raising. Everyone can expect more knocks on the door and, truth to tell, agencies will have less time to spend on their missions. Not sure anyone wins in that scenario.
Here’s hoping MUFFY figures it out. Soon.

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at ttimmons@thepaper24-7.com.