Inflation devours United Way gains Over $3 billion raised, but inflation hurts.


First the good news from the United Way of America.

The fund-raising organization with 2,300 chapters nationwid brought in $3.11 billion in 1990, the first time in United Way's 104-year history that the $3 billion figure has been reached. The Central Maryland chapter raised $38.6 million in 1990, a 3.3 percent increase over 1989's amount.

Now the not-so-good news.

Because inflation ran at 5.4 percent in 1990, United Way givin did not experience real-dollar growth for the first time in eight years, according to William Aramony, president of the United Way of America, based in Alexandria, Va.

Today's tight economy is sending American voluntee organizations a "signal that says we must work even harder to raise the needed resources that will make a difference in delivering quality services to people in need," Aramony said.

How to answer that signal was the focus of United Way's annua Volunteer Leaders Conference, which concluding today at the Convention Center downtown. About 1,700 United Way chapter leaders from across the country began gathering Saturday for a slate of workshops, speeches and award presentations.

The conference, with the theme "Mobilizing A Caring America, provided a chance for the chapter leaders to schmooze a little, pat themselves on the back and, most importantly, share ideas on raising even more money in the future.

"People come to this gathering to see what other chapte leaders are doing, to get some fresh thinking that might suggest new ways of running their own campaigns," explained United Way of America spokesman Joanetta Bolden. "There are so many other volunteer organizations out there trying to raise funds, so it's important that we try to stay competitive in a very competitive field."

Workshops and round-table discussions on various fund-raisin techniques were held throughout the three-day event. Speeches top United Way officials and award presentations to leading fund-raisers supplied further inspiration.

Henry Cisneros, the former mayor of San Antonio and now businessman and United Way official in Texas, gave the keynote address during yesterday's general session. He spoke of the dangers of a "gravitation toward two Americas" -- one an America "whose future is limitless," the other a nation where 32 million of its people, many of them children, live in poverty.

The solutions, Cisneros said, should be devised b "public-private partnerships," such as those involving United Way contributors and agencies, which must base their approach not on political ideology but on "practical, common-sense ways to solve local problems."

Special attention should be given to meeting the physical an mental health needs of mothers, infants and children who lack the ability to obtain proper care, Cisneros added.

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