United Way is seeking 4% increase in giving Drive to open today

goal is $37.75 million

September 12, 1996|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

Hoping donations rise two years in a row, United Way of Central Maryland will formally open its 1996 campaign today with a goal of $37.75 million -- 4 percent above the $36.2 million raised last year.

Donald A. Manekin, general chairman, said a greater number of volunteers and their "wonderful" enthusiasm, changes in goal-setting and other strategies, and a stepped-up summer campaign among companies make the goal realistic. United Way giving last year rose 3.3 percent over 1994.

"Everyone's on the bandwagon, and the energy level is high," said Manekin. The two-month campaign, shorter than usual by several weeks, will end Nov. 21.

For the first time, the 41 volunteer "cabinet members" who preside over separate areas set their own goals, and these figures became the final total target. Before this "bottoms-up campaign," the board of directors set the goal.

"Because the people doing the work are the ones who sized up their responsibilities, enlisted more volunteers and set their own goals, they're more likely to reach them," said Manekin, a partner and senior vice president of Manekin Corp., a Columbia-based commercial real estate firm.

Manekin praised James B. Sellinger, IBM area vice president of product marketing, for his "successful" 1995 campaign and said this year's drive would build on it.

After four years of declining revenues, United Way posted the 3.3 percent increase last year over 1994 donations of $35,039,000, though it fell short of its goal of $37 million.

Contributions from 1991 to 1994 declined locally, as elsewhere, because of the weak economy, job losses and public disgust at the theft of United Way funds by then-national President William Aramony, who is serving a seven-year prison term.

United Way leaders said they believe the scandal's effects finally have disappeared. Results from 376 agencies nationally last year totaled $3.15 billion, up 2.3 percent from 1994.

The Maryland agency says a voluntary group of 120 business, labor and other leaders, rather than the paid staff of 97, makes the decisions that return to the community 87 cents of every dollar collected.

Last year, the charity distributed $24 million to 69 local groups, from $12,000 to Hearth, a southwest Baltimore County housing group for homeless women and children, to $2.8 million to the American Red Cross.

Manekin and Larry Walton, United Way of Central Maryland executive director, who took over in January, described other developments in the 1996 campaign:

* The 43 board members, also corporate leaders, are more active this year. Each has enlisted chief executive officers of two other companies to become organizers. The board members also loan employees to work at United Way during the drive.

* Some companies, during the summer program called "pacesetters," were asked to give 15 percent more than in the previous year.

This summer, 30 firms gave about $4 million, compared with 11 that gave $1.82 million last summer.

* A "Can Do" push was applied to companies whose employees' participation is low. Walton said Maryland's philanthropy potential is greater than its record. "Many people have never been asked to give," he said.

One firm raised $1 million last year, Walton said, but didn't realize that came from only 22 percent of its employees, a performance expected to improve this year.

* A new African-American leadership division.

* Carroll and Harford counties now have separate divisions along with those in Howard and Anne Arundel counties, providing more coverage in Central Maryland. Baltimore and Baltimore County are run from the main Light Street offices.

In addition, employees of many companies volunteer at a nonprofit or other agency under United Way's "A Day of Caring" program. Some have been held. Today, 2,400 employees from 89 companies are expected to work an estimated 12,000 hours on 177 area nonprofit and other projects. The traditional opening last year drew 1,400 employees volunteering at 60 programs.

The day is designed to get workers in the mood for altruism and help the nonprofit agencies and other recipients. For example:

* United Way staff worked at a soup kitchen and a day care center.

* Employees of Manekin Corp. helped fix up an area Monday in the Harwood community of Northeast Baltimore.

* Signet Bank volunteers spend time with shut-ins, the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs and the homeless.

* A Blue Cross-Blue Shield team will replace doors on Druid Hill Avenue.

Pub Date: 9/12/96

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