United Way fund drive tops goal $37.8 million is raised in shorter campaign

November 22, 1996|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

Maryland donors made the United Way look good yesterday: They topped the agency's goal for the first time in several years and they dug deeper for the second straight campaign.

The fund-raising group for 72 agencies has collected $37,784,599 in pledges and cash. This was $34,599 more than the goal of $37.75 million and $1,584,599 more than was donated last year. More donations are expected in coming days.

"We're over the top," President Larry E. Walton said on the drive's last day. "I'm elated. I'm ecstatic. Every one of our 41

divisions raised more money than last year. It's a total community win."

The drive's general chairman, Donald A. Manekin, said the key may have been face-to-face contacts officials made in the spring with chief executive officers of 120 companies that were past leading contributors. "They pledged to stand behind United Way, and they did," he said.

Walton noted areas of new or increased giving:

Challenge grants, introduced in Maryland this year, produced $2.7 million in new money. The Hoffberger Foundation, the Aaron Straus and Lillie Straus Foundation, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation gave $600,000 of $900,000 offered as a challenge grant on a 1-for-2 basis. Other donors matched that with $1.8 million.

Other initiatives yielded $600,000 in new money.

Giving increased substantially in several of the 41 divisions: tourism, such as hotels and restaurants, up 49 percent; individuals at home, 41 percent; foundations, 17 percent; health care providers, 15 percent; Carroll and Harford counties, 13 percent each; construction and professionals, 11 percent each; and small businesses, 11 percent.

"Can Do" companies that have had low participation did better. Some improved by as much as a third because of better cooperation between management and labor.

Last year, nine black-owned companies representing 500 employees took part. This year, Frances Toni Draper, president of Afro-American Newspapers, led an effort to increase giving -- 20 African-American companies with 2,000 workers gave and others are considering giving. Financial figures weren't available yesterday.

In the "Alexis de Tocqueville" category, which has a minimum contribution level of $10,000, 159 people gave an average of $13,000 each, compared with last year when 140 donors gave an average of $11,000. This year, two gave $100,000 each, and eight gave $25,000 or more.

Walton said the Baltimore area needed the additional money because of social problems that require immediate attention.

Without offering statistics, he said: "The whole area of emergency services is growing. Every day, there's a lot of personal trauma in the Baltimore area. People lose jobs. Domestic abuse remains high. Homelessness continues. People get shot and killed.

"The nonprofits try to keep up with it," he said, "but they will never be able to fill the whole gap between money and needs."

Walton praised Manekin "as a combination Cal Ripken and John Unitas" in directing the campaign, "for community, for volunteers, for staff, for family. I could not have asked for a better human being."

Manekin, partner and senior vice president of Manekin Corp., a Columbia commercial real estate firm, credited Walton, president since January, with infusing the agency with vigor after moving from Richmond, where he directed its United Way for 15 years.

Of his experiences as the drive's chairman, Manekin said: "It's been quite a treat. It's like jumping on the French supersonic train picking up speed to 200 miles an hour. Everyone working so hard. It takes your breath away."

The drive from Sept. 12 to yesterday was three weeks shorter than last year but more concentrated under Walton. He plans to trim another week next year.

Hundreds partied at a victory celebration last night at Oriole Park Camden Yards.

Though the drive ended yesterday, some totals announced at the celebration will grow. An audit of final results is due in February.

Officials said that in recent years, Central Maryland campaigns fell short of expectations.

United Way's campaigns showed declining donations from 1991 through 1994. Blamed were the weak economy, job losses and public revulsion at the lavish spending of United Way funds by then-national President William Aramony. He was convicted last year of defrauding the charity and is in prison in Rochester, Minn.

Last year, the local and national drives recovered. The Maryland campaign raised $36.2 million, an increase of 3.3 percent over 1994 donations of $35.04 million but short of its goal of $37 million.

Almost $24 million was distributed among 69 member agencies. Another $9 million went to 2,000 nonmember charities named by donors and $1.2 million for United Way's direct services such as an around-the-clock help line.

Big recipients were the American Red Cross, $2.8 million; Associated Catholic Charities, $2.39 million; Combined Health Agencies, a federation of health agencies, $1.79 million.

Small recipients included such groups as Hearth, for affordable housing, $12,000, and Helping Hand Inc., serving the needy in Anne Arundel County, $17,000.

More than 130 volunteers, rather than the staff of 96, review and decide what agencies get what money. They work in a tight structure of panels, an allocations committee and, at the top, the community building and investment committee, headed since July by Emried D. Cole Jr.

"The distribution of funds is done by leaders of business, labor, education and others," said Marlene McLaurin, vice president, Community Building Division.

Pub Date: 11/22/96

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