United Way of P.E.I. fundraising down, concerns about Phoenix pay problems

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United Way coffers beefed up with Burger Love

The United Way of P.E.I. is falling behind in its fundraising goals for the year and believes that is partially because of problems with the federal governments pay system, Phoenix.  

Since the government consolidated many separate payroll systems into the Phoenix system last spring, tens of thousands of public servants have been underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all.

This year United Way has raised almost $900,000 on P.E.I., but it is about $46,000 short compared to where it was last year.

It said payroll deductions — contributions that are taken directly from an employee's pay cheque — are down.

"The federal employees are one of the main contributors on P.E.I. to our campaign, and we've seen a decrease in that based on the implementation of Phoenix," said CEO Andrea MacDonald 

MacDonald explained that volunteer canvassers from federal departments shared employee feedback outlining employee concerns and fears of making any changes to their payroll. 

"Understandably some employees are concerned about touching their payroll at all for fear of it impacting their pay," she said.

'Also some people can't even consider giving at a time where maybe they haven't been paid or have been inconsistently paid over the last year."

MacDonald said 36 per cent of P.E.I. federal employees opted for a payroll deduction in 2015-16, which decreased to 24 per cent for 2016-17.

'We have need that we are not able to meet'

This year United Way will be funding 13 P.E.I charities to deliver 16 projects across the Island, but MacDonald worries that could have been more. 

"Already we have need that we are not able to meet," she said.

"This year we had 27 different applications for funding, and our new round we were able to award six new projects in addition to the ones that we're funding already. So yeah the thought of that $40,000 already in my head translates directly to some of those projects that we know we wish we could be funding. "

She said the challenge now is how to make it up.

United Way has implemented some new initiatives like an online auction, and has been trying to promote other ways of giving, especially to federal employees, like text to donate, credit cards and e-pledges.

"The challenge is we fund for two to three years at a time, we need to make up that money whether it's now before the end of March or it's next year, or else it's really going to impact our ability to support future programming," she said.

She said all of the current funding commitments will be met, and thanked everyone who was able to give this year.

She plans to keep pushing forward to their year end on March 31, and work from there.

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