By almost any measure, this year's United Way campaign in Central Maryland is lagging badly.
Halfway through the four-month campaign, only $12 million has been raised toward the goal of $40 million. If the campaign continues at this sluggish pace, it will mean drastic cuts to the agencies that count on United Way money.
"If the campaign does not meet its goal, we're going to be cut again," said Maj. David Jones of the Salvation Army, which lost 13 percent of its $900,000 United Way funds when last year's campaign failed to meet expectations. "It might even be more than 13 percent this time. It's really going to make a dent in our services."
The United Way of Central Maryland raises money for more than 300 human services agencies in the area. Until last year, it breezed through its campaigns with relative ease, often increasing contributions by 10 percent or more.
But in 1991, with the number of potential donors shrinking as Maryland's unemployment rolls grew, the campaign failed to meet its goal in the private sector for the first time. Between private and government employees, it raised $38.6 million overall.
This year, United Way of Central Maryland decided not to separate its corporate and government campaigns. As a result, it is difficult to compare the 1991 and 1992 fund-raising drives. But a year ago at this time, the campaign had raised $17 million just from corporate givers, who typically make up 75 percent of the total.
The economy continues to be a problem for United Way, local officials said. They said they do not believe the campaign was hurt by the scandal involving William Aramony, the United Way of America chairman who resigned after revelations about his salary and perquisites.