With only one month left, the Penn's Way charity campaign is only about one-third of the way to its goal of $425,000 in pledges, University officials said yesterday. Pledged contributions totalled $145,500 as of November 20, according to Barabara Murray, a Penn's Way pledge processor in the comptroller's office. She said yesterday that last year's campaign had already reached $200,000 by the same time. In a statement in this week's Almanac, President Sheldon Hackney asked University employees to consider making contributions, pointing out that the "first half indicators are not rosy." But Linda Hyatt, co-chairperson of the campaign operations committee, said she is hopeful that pledges from faculty and staff will pick up before the two-month campaign ends on December 31. Hyatt, the acting executive director of the president's office, noted that some people typically wait until the end of December to pledge money for tax purposes. Last year's campaign exceeded its target of $400,000, bringing in nearly $410,000. The goal for the current campaign was raised to $425,000 in anticipation of similar success. At its present rate, however, total donations to this year's campaign could fall well short of its target. Hyatt attributed the current disappointing results to a number of factors, including the economy's continued sluggishness. But she also pointed to some changes made in this year's campaign as possible explanations. Unlike last year, when the University relied on volunteers in each department to coordinate the pledges, the campaign this year has mailed materials directly to employees via intramural mail, according to Hyatt. At the same time, she said, the campaign has used electronic mail more heavily than paper mail this year for spreading information about the program. Hyatt said that while both changes were designed to increase privacy and efficiency and to reduce waste, they may have also inadvertently lowered the campaign's overall visibility. Another possible explanation for the drop-off, she said, is that the "novelty" of the new combined campaign among employees is beginning to wear off in its second year. The charity campaign was redesigned in the spring of 1991, after faculty and staff complained that they could only give money to groups that were administered by the United Way. Under the combined campaign, employees can still give money to the United Way-sponsored funds. But now they can also donate to several independent umbrella charity groups, such as Women's Way and the United Negro College Fund. "For some people, the newness of having a combined campaign may have worn off a bit," she said. John Kehoe, a financial analyst in the executive vice president's office and another co-chairperson of the campaign's operations committee, expressed what he called "cautious optimism" that pledges will pick up in the next month. He said he feels that donations are "pretty much on track," noting that there is still a month left in the campaign. United Way spokesperson Joe Divis echoed Kehoe's optimism. "The campaign's not over yet," he said last night. "As long as there's time, you can still hope people will consider those who are less fortunate. Their needs are greater than ever."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.