The United Way of Central Maryland will extend its annual fund-raising campaign, originally scheduled to end yesterday, because only 59 percent of the $34.7 million goal has been reached.
About 1,000 people involved in the campaign attended a celebration at Martin's West last night where United Way officials announced that $20.5 million had been donated.
But with almost two-thirds of companies still conducting employee campaigns, the gathering was not the finale it was intended to be.
Instead, United Way officials announced that the campaign would be extended until the end of January.
"The sluggish economy has not adversely affected our campaign results to date, but it has caused many people to be apprehensive about making pledges," Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Crown Central Petroleum Corp. and chairman of the 1990 campaign, said in a statement.
About 1,200 of the 3,500 companies holding employee campaigns have reported their results, said Mel Tansill, United Way spokesman. Those results, along with 1,500 corporate gifts, add up to the $20.5 million pledged to date.
United Way officials said that they had received most of their pledges from small and medium-sized companies, but that many large organizations have not yet completed their campaigns.
Of those pledges turned in, employees have increased their giving by an average of 12 percent and corporations by 5 percent, Mr. Tansill said.
"We're hopeful we can still make the goal," he said. "People are apprehensive right now."
Mr. Tansill said grants to the more than 300 agencies United Way helps support may decline if the goal is not reached. "We're going to do our best over the next two months to convince the community that we can't lower funding for essential human services," he said.