The United Way of Central Maryland is lagging 25 percent behind its fund-raising goal when compared with last year's drive at this point, despite a lengthened campaign and a relatively modest goal.
If giving continues at the current pace, the campaign will fall $1.6 million short of its $33.2 million goal, the non-profit agency announced yesterday.
To date, the agency has raised just $17,820,328 of its $33.2 million goal. Chairman James T. Brady warned that agencies supported by the campaign will face drastic cuts if the campaign falls short for a second year in a row.
"If our campaign goal is not met, United Way Services will be reduced," said Brady, managing partner of Arthur Andersen & Co, who encouraged donors to consider making larger contributions.
United Way spokesman Mel Tansill added: "As Yogi Berra said, 'It ain't over till it's over.' And it's not over. We still have two months. We're not giving up."
Because the recession has cut into people's ability or willingness to give to charity, this year's campaign was extended from three months to five months, and officials set a fund-raising goal only 4 percent higher than last year's. In previous years, the goal typically increased by 10 percent or more. The campaign ends in January.
About 75 percent of the United Way's contributions come through employer-based campaigns. Tansill said the agency estimates that among the "Big 50" corporations, the number of potential donors is down 14,000 because of hiring freezes and lay-offs.
So the campaign this year has focused on 1,800 smaller companies with 50 or more employees that had never conducted in-house United Way drives.
"We're hopeful the void will be filled," Tansill said.
The breakdown of money raised versus expectations shows that in some counties less than 50 percent of the goal has been reached. Contributions are based on where a corporation is located. The the campaign did not have numbers for the city, which benefits by the concentration of corporations in its borders.
In Anne Arundel County, 28 percent of its $1.33 million goal has been reached; in Baltimore County, 37 percent of $9.16 million; in Carroll County, 51 percent of $901,446; in Harford County, 27 percent of $383,680; and in Howard County, 45 percent of $2.54 million.
"This recession is affecting the entire region," Tansill said. "What we hope happens is that people become more cognizant of human care needs in their own community.
"Every dollar makes a difference. One of the misconceptions is that, unless a person gives thousands and thousands, his or her gift won't make a difference. That's just not true."