The United Way of Central Maryland raised $30.8 million in 1994, ending a slump in the agency's annual fund-raising campaign, United Way officials announced yesterday.
The contributions marked a 2 percent increase over the previous year, when the organization recorded its lowest total in six years.
President Norman O. Taylor said the organization had not set a monetary goal for the 1994 campaign. "We just wanted to bring in more contributions than last year. Our goal was to turn around."
The 1994 fund-raising total is still slightly less than the charitable organization's record of about $31 million in 1991.
Contributions declined sharply after 1991 partly because of a weak economy and job losses among businesses. Some donors backed off when the $435,000 salary and lavish lifestyle of William Aramony, the chief executive at United Way of America, were made public.
Mr. Aramony resigned, but the damage had been done. Even the news that the Central Maryland chapter forwarded less than 1 percent of its contributions to the United Way's headquarters did not appease many would-be donors.
Nationwide, there are about 145 United Way chapters, including the United Way of Central Maryland, which serves Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.
Lester Picker, a local philanthropy specialist, said the scandal over Mr. Aramony was the best thing that could have happened to the United Way.
"They seem to have finally gotten the message that they can't simply pass out contribution cards to employees at big corporations," he said.
One change the local organization made was to create a "day of caring," said Joseph E. Blair Jr., who is 1994 chairman of the local United Way, and chairman and chief executive officer of Baltimore Life Insurance Co.
Employers allowed workers to spend a day helping at a shelter or other charity. Last year, more than 1,400 employees participated.
James B. Sellinger, the 1995 campaign chairman of United Way of Central Maryland, said the monetary goal this year will be higher than the 1994 fund-raising total.
"The key seems to be hooking donors up with the recipients so the donors can see where their money is going," said Mr. Sellinger, general manager of the Chesapeake Bay trading area for IBM. "We know that for every $1 contributed two people are helped. Seeing that first-hand is a very rewarding experience for donors."
Last year, the United Way of Central Maryland's biggest contributors, including individual and corporate donations, were Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. with $1.7 million and Westinghouse Electric Corp. with $1.5 million.
The state employees' Maryland Charity Campaign raised $2.2 million; city employees contributed $870,000.