Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer's campaign committee has broken an all-time Maryland fund-raising record but so far has failed to meet the $1 million goal its organizers set, according to documents filed with the state elections board.

The $976,000 Schaefer raised at a Sept. 26 tribute far outstrips the amounts raised during the same period by his most likely challengers for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs' campaign manager said that he has raised $640,000 since January 1984, and House Speaker Benjamin L. Cardin said yesterday that his committee has raised $278,000 since October 1984.

On the Republican side, Howard County Executive J. Hugh Nichols, who recently switched parties, raised $30,000 during the last 12 months but has a current cash balance of $2,330.

Fund raising by the four likely gubernatorial candidates indicates a level of politicial activity that, judged by the same financial standard, exceeds that in other 1986 statewide races.

House Minority Leader Robert Neall (R-Anne Arundel), who is running for the seat held by retiring Rep. Marjorie Holt, reported that he has raised about $2,800 in two campaign accounts. About $10,000 he had raised before the reporting period is being transferred to a Neall for Congress fund.

The most recent report available in Annapolis for Democrat Tom McMillen, who also is seeking Holt's seat, shows that the Bullets basketball center raised about $29,000 between January and June this year.

In local races, Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening reported that he raised about $100,000 at a fund-raiser last month. Among contributors to the $100-a-ticket event were developers, including the Carley Capital Group and the Laurel Lakes Association, which bought 10 tickets each.

In Montgomery County, Democratic state Del. Lucille Maurer, who is running for the state Senate, has raised $24,000 during the last year. One of her potential challengers, Del. Idamae Garrott (D-Mongtomery) raised $8,822 during the same period.

Schaefer's campaign committee chairman Robert S. Hillman said yesterday that $8,000 more in ticket money has been received since the state reporting period closed on Oct. 26. That, plus another $42,000 in ticket sales still outstanding, will put the Schaefer effort above the $1 million mark, he said.

Schaefer received the bulk of his contributions from the Baltimore area, but also sold tickets as far away as San Francisco. In the Washington area attorney Robert Linowes, developer Nathan Landow, State Sen. Stewart Bainum and Laurel Race Track owner Frank De Francis were among those who moved the most tickets, each raising between $18,000 and $30,000 for the event, Hillman said.

New York banks, including Citicorp and Chemical Bank who have expressed interest in expanding into Maryland, also bought tickets to the $500-a-head party that preceded the massive September fundraiser.

Controversial contributors like Irvin Kovens, the Baltimore furniture dealer who was convicted along with former Gov. Marvin Mandel in the 1970s, also raised a significant amount of Schaefer's money.

Sachs has charged that Schaefer is tarring himself by associating with Kovens and Mandel, both of whom attended the September event.

Sachs, who has so far tried to emphasize grass-roots, low-cost fund raising to distinguish himself from Schaefer, has planned his most expensive fund raiser for February, said Lee. It will be a $100-per-plate affair in Baltimore. Sachs did not have to file documents today under state election laws.

Six firms bearing the name of Salisbury chicken entrepreneur Frank Perdue each made $1,000 contributions to the Schaefer campaign, as did Perdue himself and three members of his family. Until he took his name out of the running recently, Perdue had been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for governor.

Cardin, who said he is re-evaluating his decision to run for governor, said that about $150,000 remains in his account. "I'm just about where I want to be," he said. "But I have to accelerate my fund raising."

Although Sachs won the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO at its October convention, some unions, including the Maryland Classified Employees' Association, contributed to Schaefer's cause.

Schaefer, who is out of the country this week, has said that he will not announce his intention to run for governor until next spring. As for the money, Hillman said, "we're going to leave it sitting in a bank until we find out whether we have a candidate or not."