United Way campaign succeeds

$43.1 million: Raising the bar in a good year prepares for coming time of greater need, fewer jobs.

March 15, 2001

IT'S A GOOD THING United Way of Central Maryland topped its $43 million goal for 2000 -- which was 5 percent more than raised in 1999.

The $43.1 million raised through payroll pledges from the working people of Baltimore City and five metro counties will flow to 125 health and human service agencies and programs to improve the lives of people here.

Not every year will be as good as 2000.

So far, 2001 has seen a marked weakening in the economy and optimism. If pessimistic predictions prove right, the needs of Central Maryland will be greater and the pool of wealth smaller.

Meanwhile, President Bush is urging Americans to expect less from government and accomplish more through charity.

So the raised bar of 2000 is preparation for the year ahead. It showed how Central Marylanders can strengthen the community safety net, which is needed more at this moment than during last autumn's fund-raising drive.

The campaign, chaired by Sun publisher Michael E. Waller, succeeded in adapting to the changing workplace, identifying new companies and appealing to high-income women for large gifts.

Constellation Energy Group, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, Johns Hopkins Institutions and Bethlehem Steel ranked among top donors.

One is a regional utility adapting to nationwide energy deregulation; another a hallowed local institution taken over by a great foreign bank; another a mighty nonprofit, where employees once thought of themselves as receivers not donors; and the other an imperiled rustbelt industry with a generous work force typical of the unionized payrolls that were the original backbone of community giving. Their employees met the challenge.

The United Way campaign attracted large gifts from the growing number of high-income earners in this region. The decisive goal-reaching $1 million pledge came from Peter and Georgia Angelos, the first gift of that size in Central Maryland.

Moderately lifting expectations for annual giving to health and human service agencies equips Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties to face the human challenges of any economic downturn with greater confidence.

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