United Way says it's making progress after past scandal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Three years after the controversial spending practices at the United Way, the charity is still working hard to repair its finances and reputation.

At uptown's United Way offices, Executive Director Jane McIntyre's job hasn't been easy.

“It's never fun to eliminate jobs, to change positions, to make changes throughout -- and then have to also regain that trust,” she said. “It is hard.”

Three years have passed since donations and public support dropped, following the scandal over the million-dollar compensation package of former CEO Gloria Pace King.

The agency is still finding its footing financially and in public opinion.

“I think they have a lot of trust they need to earn back with the community,” Charlotte resident Quay Worthy said.

The United Way said it has hard numbers to prove it's making progress.  Agency executives shared with Eyewitness News financial information from an IRS report it's filing Wednesday.

It shows major changes to cut costs. The salaries of its top six executives are down 42 percent from 2007. Overhead that was more than $11 million when the scandal hit has dropped to $6 million now.

The United Way insists the pay scandal is largely behind it now.  But the impact is still being felt in one critical area -- donations.  They peaked at $45 million in 2007 but have fallen to just over $28 million in the latest IRS filing.

That has hit other agencies hard, like the Arc of Mecklenburg, which has seen its United Way funding cut nearly in half.

“We moved our office space. We reduced our staff by half,” said Lauren Borchert with Arc of Mecklenburg. “We used to have six people working here. Now we have three.”

Yet McIntyre believes it's what the public needs to believe again.

“No organization in their right mind would make the kinds of changes that we've made,” she said. “We were forced to and we had to, and I can now say to you, it's a good thing.”