Saturday, October 05, 2002

Flat giving holds back United Way

Steady not enough to cope with rising need for help

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        United Way officials in Cincinnati are concerned that a sluggish economy and “flat-line” giving are going to leave them short of their $62 million goal by the time the annual campaign ends Oct. 31.

        As of Thursday night, Cincinnati's United Way campaign - which began Sept. 1 - has raised $33.4 million, nearly 54 percent of the goal.

        Carol Aquino, vice president of communications at United Way, said the fear of falling short comes from the fact that some corporations that solicit employee contributions weren't producing increases over past giving and others were lagging behind.

        “It's a tough economy,” Ms. Aquino said. “We knew that coming in.”

        Many of the 170 agencies in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky that receive United Way funding - particularly the social service agencies - are experiencing an increased demand for services, Ms. Aquino said. “which is why we need increased giving.”

        David Calhoun, the chief executive officer of GE Aircraft Engines and chairman of the 2002 United Way campaign, said many of the corporate campaigns are just getting started.

        “It's essential that we gain some momentum there if we are to have any chance of getting to $62 million,” Mr. Calhoun said.

        More than 2,000 businesses in the eight-county area are participating in the campaign. But, said Ms. Aquino, they are “thousands more” who are not.

        Any local business that is not part of the campaign can still join, Ms. Aquino said, by calling 762-7100.

        Last year, the United Way campaign raised slightly more than $60 million.


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