With an army of 4,500 volunteers and committee chairmen including Secretary of the Treasury W. Michael Blumenthal, the United Way will kick off its 1977 fund-raising drive on Sept. 7.

United Way, an umbrella agency for 107 non-profit, charitable organizations, and the United Black Fund, coordinator for 42 organization, have teamed up for the campaign this year, which has no set dollar goal.

"I'm predicting we can come up with $18 million this year," said campaign chairman Samuel E. Bonsack, the president of C&P Telephone Company. Last year's campaign, which also had no set dollar goal, netted more than $17 million.

Ninety per cent of the money raised through the campaign actually goes to the 149 agencies, according to United Way spokeswomen Kristin Oliver. The other 10 per cent pay for the salaries of 60 paid staff members and other genreal costs of the campaign, said Oliver. This percentage is fairly constant from year to year.

"The philosophy of the campaign is to reach people where they work and to solicit directly form corporate treasuries," William Ackerman, the assistant director of the membership and allocations department of the united Way, explained. "Ours is an educational, not an arm-twisting, agency."

To do that, the United Way has recruited 112 "loaned executives" from companies and trade associations who spend four days learning about the United Way campaign and the agencies it raises money for, and then three months contacting company chairmen of the drive to explain to them how to solicit funds for the campaign.

The 107 organizations that the United Way sponsors represent seven regions in the metropolitan area - Alexandria, Arlington, D.C., Fairfax-Falls Church, Montgomery County, Prince George's County and Prince William County. Panels of volunteers review the status of the organizations each year to make sure that they meet standards for membership in the United Way.

Ackerman notes that each organization must be non-profit, tax exempt, and have an all-volunteer board of directors of at least 15 members. They should be nondiscriminatory in picking members and serivces, and they should be servicing the community's needs, according to Ackerman. They should not be private foundations.

In the metropolitan area, 3.5 million persons will benefit from the organizations under the United Way, according to Joe Reno, a staff director for the United Way. Those programs range from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to speech and hearing clinics. The newest organizations of the United Way, that were not members last year, are the Korean Community Service Center of Greater Washington and the New Educational Ways, a small agency that operates a day-care center in the Adams-Morgan area of Washington.

Most of the agencies supported receive less than 20 per cent of their total funds from the United Way drive. But some get much more, depending on their needs and financing. The Northern Virginia Family Service receives more than 20 per cent, and the Shoe and Rubber Fund of the D.C. PTA, which provides shoes and galoshes for D.C. school children, gets almost all of its funds from the United Way, according to Ackerman.

The D.C. Mental Health Association and the Prince George's Mental Health Association each receive half of their budgets from the United Way.

The organization collecting the most money from the United Way campaign is the American Red Cross which, for all seven of its area chapters, received $2,813,403, or approximately 20 per cent of what was raised last year, according to Ackerman.

The Family and Child Services of D.C. received the second highest amount of money - $840,000 - followed by the Salvation Army, the Visiting Nurses Association of D.C. and the Washington Urban League.

Those contributing to the United Way may designate on the pledge card to which agency his contribution should be given.

Bonsack says that he would like to see the amount of corporate gifts improved. In Rochester, N.Y., last year, corporations gave $28.44 per employee. (This figure is the money that the corporations gave, not the total for employee contributions.) The New York City corporate figure was $10.78 per employee, and the Washington figure was $9.90 per employee. "We think we'll do better with the recession behind us," Bonsack said.

The campaign begins with a luncheon on Sept. 7 at the Washington Hilton Hotel and runs through Dec. 8.