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United Way seeks $32.6 million from businesses

Moving forward in the face of an uncertain economy and a smaller pool of corporate donors, United Way of Central Maryland announced yesterday its 2003 private-sector fund-raising goal is $32.6 million - a 3 percent increase over the amount raised last year.

Lainy LeBow-Sachs, chairwoman of this year's campaign, announced the goal to an audience of several hundred people attending a Baltimore Ravens kickoff luncheon at the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott. The goal represents the total the organization expects to raise by targeting businesses and labor groups in Baltimore and the five surrounding counties.

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In May, United Way announced it would reduce funding to 63 area nonprofit groups by 40 percent because of a $3 million shortfall in donations, but LeBow-Sachs, a veteran fund-raiser and senior vice president for external affairs at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, is optimistic about the campaign.

"I'm going to get there and I'm going to exceed it," she said after the luncheon. "The agencies [that we support] are facing cutbacks from government, cutbacks from foundations and cutbacks from the United Way, but I feel that it's going to get better."

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In a break with tradition, United Way officials did not simultaneously announce the fund-raising goals of their public-sector campaigns.

While the agency continues to manage payroll-deduction charitable campaigns for the city of Baltimore, the state of Maryland and federal agencies in the region, United Way officials said that representatives of those fund-raisers will announce their goals at separate kickoff events this month.

United Way President Larry Walton said in a statement that the change creates better visibility for the other campaigns.


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