United Way of the Plains raised more than $15.8 million in pledges this year, the group announced at a luncheon Thursday.
The total fell short of this year's goal of $16.4 million and of the $16.36 million United Way raised in pledges last year.
But staff and volunteers were energized by how much was raised despite the economic downturn locally and the rise in unemployment throughout the past year.
"We felt very fortunate to only be down by 3 percent," United Way president Pat Hanrahan said after the luncheon at the Century II Convention Hall. "I've talked to retail businesses who say they're off by 30 percent."
The shortfall means local charities may get less United Way support at a time of greater needs. Because of the declining economy, nonprofits in Wichita are seeing increased need and expenses, according to a United Way survey of local charities released last month.
"This is the worst economy in Wichita for United Way since 1972," Hanrahan said.
Hanrahan said United Way will adjust by looking at what needs charities can meet, the services they provide and the past performance with getting the most out of their money.
"There are probably going to be cuts," Hanrahan said. "Some will be less than others."
Campaign chair Craig Anderson said 73 new businesses and 13 new people giving at the $10,000-plus level helped contribute to the total.
Spirit AeroSystems contributed $2.2 million, including $1.9 million from employee contributions. Hawker Beechcraft added $1.45 million and Cessna $1.17 million.