The United Way of the National Capital Area kicks off its annual fund drive today with a luncheon at the Washington Hilton and special television broadcasts.
The fund drive aids more than 200 metropolitan area service groups and is a joint effort by the United Way, the United Black Fund and the Combined Federal Campaign.
Ken Unzicker, corporate affairs director for United Way, said the campaign has not set a specific monetary goal but hopes to exceed last year's contributions of $23.5 million by at least 12 percent. Contributions for the past three campaigns have increased by about 12 percent each year.
As in past years, the fund drive will be run largely by volunteers. United Way officials attribute part of the campaign's past success to the willingness of area companies to lend executives to the three-month fund drive.
The executives serve in various positions, including regional chairmanships.
The regional chairman for the District is Howard C. Davis, a dentist who is president of the Washington Urban League.
The combined Federal Campaign and the United Black Fund again are part of the fund drive.
The United Black Fund (UBF) is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization representing many health, welfare and social service agencies geared primarily to helping inner-city groups.
As a partner in the campaign, the UBF receives money which contributors specifically designate for it, plus a percentage of all funds raised above last year's total contributions.
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the federal employees' arm of the fund drive. For many years, the CFC has been the largest single contributor to the fund drive. Last year, federal employees raised $11.6 million. Of that, $9.5 million went to the United Way Campaign and the remainder went to national health and international service agencies.
In the district, govenment employees raised $530,594 last year for the United Way as part of the D.C. One Fund Drive.
This year, for the first time, the American Cancer Society and its local divisions will have the same status as the United Black Fund.
In previous campaigns, the society received only funds allocated by the United Way's budget team, a group of 150 volunteers nominated by United Way's regional offices and board of directors.
Campaign officals say that the cost of running a campaign accounts for less than 10 percent of the money raised. Last year, the campaign cost less than 7 percent of total contributions. In addition, campaign officials say, after deducting year-round administrative costs, almost 90 percent of the income goes to the agencies and service groups that are part of the United Way.
Agencies seeking campaign funds must demonstrate their organizational efficiency and a need for their services. They also must have tax-exempt status, submit to a yearly independent audit and have a volunteer board of directors representative of the community served. United Way budget teams visit all agencies and services applying for campaign funds to review their budgets and programs before allocations are determined.