The United Way is the only way 1995 campaign: Central Marylanders looking after themselves and their neighbors

September 24, 1995

WHATEVER THE OUTCOME of battles on Capitol Hill, government is reducing its role in meeting social needs in the belief that private agencies can compensate. Those agencies are doubtful, but the challenges are hurtling at them, and at all of us with jobs, homes and a stake in society.

Fortunately, the ambitious $37 million goal for the 1995 campaign of the United Way of Central Maryland, combined with its auditing of effectiveness, helps this region adapt to crucial challenges in health and human services.

United Way has reorganized. It is focused on fund raising, distribution to meet the greatest need and its telephone referral service (at the expense of some technical assistance to small agencies). New staff and volunteer training has taken place. New efforts are being made to reach employers that may never have been asked before to hold campaigns.

Instead of organizing all efforts by industry, a pilot program links a large firm with its clients and vendors. If PHH in Hunt Valley succeeds at this, more will try it next year. For what is basically a workplace fund-raising effort, keeping up with the evolution of the American workplace -- to outer counties, homes, start-up firms and partnerships -- is a major challenge.

These changes underlie the optimism that raised the goal $2 million above last year's donations. The upturn in the national economy has curbed anxieties. Where companies have downsized, payroll giving is smaller, but people who do have jobs have more confidence and accept responsibilities. And so, as the campaign gets into high gear at some 2,000 workplaces, the pace-setter campaigns that are already concluded show that goals can be exceeded.

United Way of Central Maryland is the umbrella agency for an immense array of services and some quarter-million payroll donations in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties. Both Anne Arundel and Howard counties have free-standing campaigns within Central Maryland's.

United Way is the most comprehensive and cost-effective approach to human need outside government. It is the great unifying effort of all people across six subdivisions. A single pledge produces year-long donations that can help 100 programs or just one chosen by the donor.

The health and welfare of Central Maryland and all its people depend on its success.

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