AWARENESS: United Way of Orange County will...

AWARENESS: United Way of Orange County will announce the results of its 1993 fund-raising campaign on March 9 and spokeswoman Janice Parks expects it to meet the $18.5-million goal, slightly above last year’s $18.2-million take. Statewide, contributions are down as much as 7% largely because of the recession and layoffs. . . . Parks says the agency locally is trying to focus people’s attention on the needy. “People in Orange County don’t seem to give if the problems aren’t something tangible: when it’s something like the homeless, child abuse or the elderly.” Otherwise, she says, “it’s like it isn’t there if we don’t see it.”

CRIME TIME: Many people are reluctant to give because they fear getting ripped off. . . . “We’re a hotbed for fraud,” says Maureen Williams, a member of Charities for Truth in Giving, a local coalition of charitable organizations. The group estimates there are more than 100 unscrupulous boiler rooms operating in Orange County, and it has tried unsuccessfully to get a countywide ordinance passed that would regulate charitable solicitors.

DISASTERS: There’s nothing like a firestorm, mudslide or earthquake to loosen people’s wallets. . . . Increased donations meant that the Orange County Chapter of the American Red Cross earmarked more than $600,000 for the Laguna Hills fire victims and helped 21,000 people this fiscal year. “The community responded with compassion during these disasters and that enabled us to meet the needs of the victims,” says a spokesman.

CASH FLOW: While big-name charities rely on business-driven fund-raisers, many smaller philanthropic organizations survive on the efforts of support groups (E1) to make ends meet. Few Orange County couples have done more to help out local causes than John and Donna Crean, who donate their Santa Ana Heights home for about 150 galas each year. “We just have a lot of fun doing it . . . though we don’t attend most of them,” says Crean, who does background checks on every charity “to make sure there are no rip-offs.”


Less Than Generous

Orange County United Way contributions ranked behind areas with similar population profiles. Per capita 1992 giving: Seattle (King County): $30.66 Greater St. Louis: $23.92 Santa Clara County: $15.40 San Diego: $10.54 Orange County: $7.60 Source: United Way