The University will kick off its annual employee fundraiser for charities on Tuesday with a luncheon hosted by President Neil L. Rudenstine and Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs and campaign chair James H. Rowe '73.
Campaign directors hope to set a new record this year, aiming to raise $700,000 in donations to the United Way and other philanthropic organizations from Harvard's faculty and staff.
"It's a very popular and innovative drive," said Mary Ann Jarvis, associate director of community relations and campaign manager. "We target the entire population, everyone that's on the payroll. It's a unifying effort."
Harvard employees will soon receive pledge cards through which they can donate to the United Way or another charity of choice.
Donors can write a check or make their contributions through payroll deductions.
"We give cards to the key people, and the key people distribute them to their departments," Jarvis said. "We end up with a diverse amount of recipients. I think we're the only university with a completely open campaign."
Leevonn Cloud, campaign manager for the umbrella charity organization Community Works, will speak at the lunch next week.
Rowe, who succeeds Vice President for Alumni Affairs Fred L. Glimp as campaign chair, will probably hold the position for two years.
"Helping charitable enterprises, both personally and financially, has never been more important," Rowe said. "Contributing to charities should be a priority for all those who can afford it."
Last year, the campaign raised $685,826 with donations from 4800 employees and retirees.
Forty-three percent of those solicited made donations. The per capita contribution was $142.
Donors gave money to more than 600 charitable organizations, including AIDS Action Committee, Planned Parenthood, the American Cancer Society and Phillips Brooks House.
"Most of our money goes to Cambridge and Boston, which pleases us enormously because that's our home community," Jarvis said, adding that half the donations usually go to the United Way.
The University has been holding charitable campaigns since the War Fund during World War II, and the drive took on its present from in the 1960s.