United Way donations still falling


Donations to the United Way of Central Maryland continue to decline, reflecting Maryland's slow economic recovery, campaign officials said today.

The charity drive raised only $27.5 million in 1993, down about 3 percent from the $28.4 raised in the 1992 campaign. The result marks a six-year low for the campaign.

"While the total is slightly down from last year, we nonetheless think it's an excellent result," John A. Saxton, chairman of this year's campaign, said before a breakfast celebration at the Omni Hotel, where volunteers dined in a "Wizard of Oz" wonderland, complete with Yellow Brick Road.

The campaign had set out to raise $31.3 million, about the same amount raised in 1991, when local donations first began to level off after years of large increases. But the 1992 campaign saw a 9 percent drop-off, one of the steepest declines nationwide.

In 1992, the United Way of Central Maryland, like organizations throughout the country, was affected by the double punch of a weak economy and the fallout over William Aramony, the highly paid chief executive at United Way of America.

Although Mr. Aramony resigned after revelations about his $435,000 salary and costly perks, the revelations still cast a pall over campaigns nationwide.

In 1993 most campaigns rebounded. As of December, 108 of143 United Way organizations reported increased donations. Some, however, like Central Maryland, continued to decline and posted even sharper decreases.

Mr. Saxton said the campaign's initial goal was based on a projection that job growth in the state would be flat during the four-month drive. United Way officials did see some encouraging trends in this year's campaign. While fewer people give, the size of the average gift increased, and 107 companies ran their first HTC campaigns, generating $160,000 in gifts. Others saw significant increases in the amount pledged.

Alex. Brown & Sons Inc., in particular, impressed United Way. The investment banking firm has tripled its gifts over the past three years, with employees contributing $732,811 to the 1993 campaign. The firm was given the Chairman's Award for its results.

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