United Way raises record $39 million Recession hurts giving in the private sector

February 05, 1992|By John Rivera

The United Way of Central Maryland reported yesterday that it raised a record $39 million in its 1991 campaign because donations from government workers more than made up for a shortfall in the private sector blamed on the recession.

Donations from the private-sector categories, many from companies hard hit by the recession, fell about $1.8 million below their $33.2 million goal, campaign officials said.

The top 50 companies that have in the past raised more than $100,000 each for the United Way had 14,000 fewer employees in 1991 owing to layoffs and hiring freezes, United Way spokesman Mel Tansill said.

The private-sector donations were 80 percent of the total raised.

Anticipating the hard times, United Way officials extended the campaign from three to five months and set a private-sector goal only 4 percent higher than the previous year's, instead of the typical 10 percent increase.

A total of about $7.6 million donated by employees of federal, state and local governments pushed the combined fund-raising receipts past the 1990 total of about $38.5 million.

The 1991 total was $39,009,745.

United Way officials said they were far from disappointed with the final private-sector total.

"This is just a tremendous response from those companies," Mr. Tansill said. "In spite of the recession, in spite of the layoffs, we almost matched last year's all-time record for giving in the private sector. If it were not for that success in the private sector, we would not have had the overall record."

The United Way contributes to more than 300 agencies in Baltimore and the surrounding counties that provide services and address issues such as AIDS, illiteracy, substance abuse, child care, homelessness, domestic violence, hunger and care for the elderly and disabled.

The number of people annually benefiting from United Way-supported services in Central Maryland approaches 1 million, Mr. Tansill said.

Many new United Way clients are former United Way donors, Mr. Tansill said.

"What happened with these layoffs was that a lot of traditional donors and their families became in need of United Way services for the first time," he said.

"The system is overloaded, and it was critical that the campaign succeed this year, and it did."

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