THE UNITED WAY of Central Maryland campaign's pledge of $36.5 million exceeded last year's donations by more than 4 percent. Maryland workers responded to the needs of their neighbors at a time of shifting employment, lay-offs, rationalizations and anxieties. It was the right response to actions at every level of government that are reducing the social safety net and throwing more responsibilities on the private philanthropic sector. The harassed taxpayer is also the voluntary donor.
The net figure includes the separate campaigns in federal, state and city workplaces, each of which exceeded last year's returns.
James B. Sellinger, chairman of this year's campaign, and Joseph E. Blair Jr., chairman of the United Way board, can take satisfaction with such progress. So can Roberta van der Voort, a retired United Way executive from Seattle who flew in this autumn to run the professional staff through this campaign.
But next year, the campaign will have to do better. Politicians at all levels will see to it that the needs that are still there are not met by public expenditure. And Baltimore still lags in per capita giving.
The United Way of Central Maryland is in the throes of reorganization, aimed at more effective fund-raising and more efficient distribution and greater help to its member agencies and the people of the metropolitan region. This comprehensive review, unveiled in June 1994, is an ongoing process.
Larry E. Walton, chief executive of the Richmond United Way, has been hired to take over Central Maryland's United Way with the new year. His job is to keep the comprehensive review going, so that next year's volunteer campaign will have even more going for it.