United Way prepares for 'tough campaign' This year's goal is $40 million

September 24, 1992|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Staff Writer

The United Way of Central Maryland hopes to raise $40 millio this year -- just $1 million above the 1991 campaign.

Officials announced the new goal yesterday at the kick-off breakfast for the five-month campaign, which raises the bulk of its funds from 3,500 corporations in the metropolitan Baltimore area.

But, for the first time, the overall goal was not broken down into separate targets for corporate and government employees. Last year, the campaign raised a record $39 million to distribute among 109 health and human service agencies, but the corporate sector fell short of its $33.2 million goal, only to be offset by giving among government employees.

"This year, we just can't gauge what we'll be able to do, what with the continuing recession," said Mel Tansill, a United Way spokesman.

The recession has cut into United Way's base, with its top 50 corporate donors reporting losses of more than 14,000 employees. This decline was offset, in part, by an increase in individual giving last year.

National polls show some people may be inclined to give less this year because of a February scandal involving the United Way of America, a trade association for local chapters, and its then-president, William Aramony. Mr. Aramony was forced to resign after revelations about his $463,000 salary and lavish business expenses.

"We know it's going to be a tough campaign," Robert D. Kunisch, co-chairman, told more than 600 people gathered for the kick-off breakfast. "We can all give a reason for not giving."

The breakfast was held with the traditional hoopla -- Mr. Kunisch and his co-chairman, Jerome W. Geckle, entered the Omni Inner Harbor's ballroom on a railroad handcar, part of a "whistle stop campaign" theme. The price of admission was a day of volunteering.

Afterward, the event's participants pledged time to local agencies. The "Day of Caring" attracted more volunteers than the Omni ballroom could hold, and the organization had to turn away 300 would-be volunteers.

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