The United Way of Central Maryland announced yesterday that it had raised $36.5 million in its 1995 campaign, an increase of more than 4 percent over last year and a clear indication that its troubled times are past.
Although the total falls just shy of the $37 million goal set when the campaign began in September, it marks the second consecutive year of growth in contributions to the charity and reverses a trend during the 1990s, when giving to United Way plunged in the wake of scandal and a poor economy.
In the biggest increase in five years, the campaign collected $1.5 million more than the $35 million total for 1994.
"Thirty-six million, five-hundred thousand dollars is wonderful," James B. Sellinger, an IBM executive who was the 1995 campaign chairman, said during last night's Campaign Final Celebration at the Morris Mechanic Theatre. "But the impact that it's going to have on the people who are in need is that much more wonderful."
"Tonight is truly a victory. When you look at that number, it's an astounding result," said Joseph E. Blair Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Baltimore Life Insurance Co. and chairman of the United Way board.
"If you want to make a comparison if you look at other United Ways our size, this increase puts us in the top 10 percentile," Mr. Blair said. "And if you talk to economists who look at the Baltimore economy, they'll tell you that Baltimore's economy has come back at a much slower rate than the rest of the nation."
The campaign result marks continued progress in the United Way's turnaround, after it suffered a decline in contributions when it was disclosed that William Aramony, while chief executive officer of United Way of America, was receiving a $435,000 salary and used agency money for personal trips. Aramony had no connection to local United Way efforts, but the organization still suffered. Aramony has since been sentenced to seven years in prison.
A weak economy and job losses in the region's businesses also contributed to decline in giving, culminating in 1992, when the United Way of Central Maryland posted a five-year low of $28.4 million.
Mr. Sellinger said the economy still poses challenges in this year's campaign. "I would say that manufacturing accounts are challenged," he said. The closings and of retail stores also meant those companies could not give as much.
The key to the success this year was aggressively pursuing new companies to participate.
Breaking down the results, Mr. Sellinger said that about 2,000 private sector companies that participated this year raised $28.8 million, about $1.7 million more than last year.
The Combined Federal Campaign for federal employees working in Maryland raised $4.3 million, an increase of about $200,000 over 1994. Baltimore City employees raised $940,426, an increase of $68,000 over last year, and state employees gave $2.47 million, an increase of $287,000.
Three corporations, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Bell Atlantic and Westinghouse Electronic Corp., gave more than $1 million each in employee and corporate contributions. Mr. Sellinger also noted the contributions of Alex. Brown and Sons, which tripled its total, with employees giving more than $900,000. In addition, 49 members of the firm's staff are members of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society, which recognizes people who give at least $10,000 each year to the United Way.