Washington (Nov. 20, 2002) -- Some United Way organizations may be playing accounting tricks to appear more efficient with donor contributions and make administration expenses appear smaller, according to a report in the New York Times.

The article quoted two United Way executives as saying that in some of the largest United Way organizations, different branches also counted some of the same contributions, falsely inflating not only their own group’s numbers, but the system’s totals.

United Way of America's president told the paper that while some of the practices conformed with generally accepted accounting principles, such practices probably won’t be tolerated in the post-Enron era.

"What happened at Enron and WorldCom has raised the bar for both for-profit and not-for-profit businesses," said Brian A. Gallagher, president of the United Way of America. "We have to respond."

The organization’s reporting guidelines also direct its members to count as contributions the value of time spent by volunteers, a practice that is often frowned upon by other charities.

--Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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