United Way of the Greater Salt Lake Area achieved its largest increase of the decade in pledges and collections, gathering $4,960,000 for 1988. That figure was a 10.5 percent increase over 1987 and fell just short of the campaign's $5,031,000 goal.

Campaign Chairman Ross E. Kendall, president and chief operating officer of Key Bank, made the announcement during the campaign's celebration luncheon Thursday.The money will be used to fund 115 programs that address some of the state's most serious problems and needs, such as abuse intervention, food and shelter, substance abuse treatment, home health care, day care and services for the elderly.

Three companies achieved the United Way's highest honor, the Spirit of the Great Salt Lake. Those companies, which met all five of the agency's awards criteria, were IBM, Northwest Pipeline and United Parcel Service.

The Summit Award, presented to companies achieving four of the criteria, was given to representatives of the Federal Reserve Bank, First Security Bank and Surety Life Insurance. Twenty-four companies were presented with the Trailblazer Award and 85 companies were given certificates for campaigns that were significantly successful.

Special awards were presented to Lon Richardson Jr., and his agency, Gillham Advertising, for their volunteer work as advertising agency to the drive; Rosenberger Photographic Productions for photography donated to the campaign; KUTV Channel 2 for creating and producing a campaign video; and to Kimberly Leslie, the station's community affairs manager, for the time and effort she gave.

United Way Board chairwoman Nancy L. Giles presented Kendall with a large Key Bank key with a heart in it and told him he won the key to the community's heart through his efforts.

Citizen review panels have been meeting since the first of the year to determine which programs will receive money and how much they should receive. The panels review each program's fiscal soundness and effectiveness in making their decisions.

The recommendations will be presented to the board of directors May 25 and agencies will receive their funds for the period from July 1 to the following June 30.

The entire $4,960,000 will be used to support programs in a four-county area, according to the agency.