United Way exceeds goal

$43.1 million raised in 2000 is 5 percent more than in 1999

`Phenomenal growth'

March 14, 2001|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

United Way of Central Maryland has exceeded its 2000 campaign goal, raising $43.1 million, 5 percent more than the previous year, campaign officials will announce this morning.

"The citizens of Maryland have shown they care deeply about each other and their community," said Jim Sellinger, vice president of technical sales support for IBM Americas and chairman of the board of directors for United Way of Central Maryland. `The success of this breakthrough campaign allows United Way to focus even more funding on programs in our four areas of impact, helping even more people in need."

Sellinger said the campaign has experienced "phenomenal growth" since he ran it in 1995, when it raised $34.8 million. In 2000, its formal goal was to raise $43 million for health and human services for the needy in Baltimore and in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

He attributed the growth of more than 20 percent since 1995 to the strong economy and a successful marketing campaign over the past year and a half that has focused on the Community Safety Net, a vast network of agencies funded by the United Way.

"We have a consistent theme about the importance of the community and giving," he said.

A relatively new emphasis on major gifts has also made a difference, said Carrie LeBow, director of major gifts and planned giving for United Way of Central Maryland. Eleven percent of the campaign total came from 336 people who each gave $10,000 or more, she said.

The 2000 campaign also drew the first $1 million gift in the history of United Way of Central Maryland. It came from Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos and his wife, Georgia.

The campaign also recorded three new members of the "Millennium Club," designed to attract pledges of $100,000 a year for three years. They are Ravens owner Art Modell and his wife, Pat; philanthropists Robert and Jane Meyerhoff; and a donor who wishes to be anonymous.

Donors who gave $10,000 or more, known as the Alexis de Tocqueville Society, grew by a record 106 new members to the 336 total.

The secret to getting so many large gifts, LeBow said, is simple: Ask for them. Although United Way officials here began the Alexis de Tocqueville Society in 1987, she said, it has grown substantially since the United Way decided to place an emphasis on major gifts about four years ago.

In the 2000 campaign, United Way officials decided to focus for the first time on major gifts from women. Traditionally, they said, many women have been volunteers and donated money in their husbands' names, but a new effort was made to increase gifts of $10,000 or more by, or in the names of, women.

Although many women were wary at first of giving independently of their husbands, the initiative more than doubled expectations this year, with 46 people pledging a total of $528,300, said Melanie Sabelhaus, a retired entrepreneur and director of the women's initiative. Thirty-one of those gifts were new, she said.

"We think the new frontier is where women get involved not only with their hearts and heads," Sabelhaus said. "We like to say we're looking for time, talent and treasure."

Much of the money from the women's initiative will fund efforts to help children and youth, Sabelhaus said. The money will go to reduce infant mortality and help children with special needs, homeless children and teens in trouble.

Despite the new efforts to focus on major gifts, United Way still brings in the bulk of its donations from its annual workplace campaigns.

For many years, Constellation Energy Group has been the local leader in such campaigns. For the second year in a row, the company raised more than $2 million.

Johns Hopkins Institutions came in a close second, said Julie Lincoln, spokeswoman for United Way, at $55,000 short of $2 million.

Reaching $1 million for the first time this year were Allfirst Financial Inc., Legg Mason Inc. and T. Rowe Price Associates Inc.

The other $1 million accounts were Bethlehem Steel Corp., the United Steelworkers of America, the Johns Hopkins Institutions, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, the National Security Agency, Northrop Grumman Corp. and the Social Security Administration.

Companies ran their campaigns in a variety of ways. One sponsored a bike race. Another held a cardboard boat regatta. Thomas Schweizer Jr., who headed this year's Alexis de Tocqueville effort in Central Maryland, said he approached people at his company, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, to ask them to give at least $10,000.

All three of United Way's public sector campaigns exceeded expectations, officials said. Federal employees raised more than $5 million, 6 percent more than in 1999. State employees raised $3.7 million, an increase of 28 percent. The citywide Combined Charity Campaign, involving Baltimore city employees, hit $1 million for the first time last year, 18 percent more than in 1999.

"It's no coincidence that our community's strongest and most respected companies also run the best United Way campaigns," said Michael E. Waller, publisher and chief executive officer of The Baltimore Sun and chairman of the 2000 Community Campaign. "Companies that support United Way demonstrate to the public - their customers, shareholders and employees - that they care about their community."

"We're building a great foundation for future campaign growth," said Larry E. Walton, president and chief professional officer of United Way of Central Maryland.

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