Even in a year of economic turmoil, NC State employees shattered previous giving totals that will benefit charities across North Carolina.

Inspired to Give Back

January 1, 2010

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NC State employees exceeded its fundraising goal, contributing $542,000 to the 2009 State Employees Combined Campaign that supports charitable organizations across the state.

“We were able to surpass our goal because of the extraordinary generosity of our faculty and staff,” chancellor Jim Woodward said. “We know that this is a difficult time for many people in our community, and our donations to the combined campaign help meet that need.”

NC State led the state’s large universities in employee participation, said Alan Taylor, SECC university campaign manager. “NC State has the highest participation rate by a margin of 10 percent,” Taylor said. “That’s a big deal.”

Nearly 100 more NC State employees contributed this year, another significant increase.

“It’s not a trend we expect to see in a year when universities have experienced layoffs,” Taylor said.

The university relies on a host of volunteers to take the lead and find ways to motivate co-workers.

In Athletics, Jim White, associate athletic director for public relations and administration, takes on the challenge of reaching 183 people housed in multiple locations.

White, a volunteer for 12 years, works in a mention of the campaign at the first all-staff meeting in August and at every staff and coaches’ meeting during the campaign. After the kickoff in September, each person gets a letter from athletic director Lee Fowler and those who have contributed before receive a copy of last year’s pledge form to make it easier for them. “Once people begin giving, they usually want to keep their track record going,” White said. If a time-pressured coach wants to renew last year’s contributions, White will even complete the forms.

“We’re trying to make it as painless as possible from a paperwork standpoint,” he said.

During the campaign, White’s co-workers receive creative e-mail reminders, usually photos with brief captions and updates. One year, he enlisted a few of his favorite movie characters to make the case, including Dirty Harry, who invited them to make his day – and someone else’s – by giving to the combined campaign.

White has also featured photos and videos of disaster survivors and an assortment of staff members who have donated. At crunch time, with a week and a few hundred dollars to go, he sent a Carter-Finley scoreboard picture showing time left in the fourth quarter to reach the goal.

“We have fun with it,” White said. He knows he’s succeeded when others remind him of the campaign. “I’ll be walking down the hall and hear, ‘I’ve got that pledge form ready,’” he said with a chuckle. “Sometimes I’m really just getting a drink of water, but they probably thought I was going to ask.”

The College of Management takes a businesslike approach. This year, Dean Ira Weiss made meeting the college’s goal a top priority.

To raise awareness, staff members Yolanda Sanders, Kathy Ford and Tuesday Cross organized a luncheon to promote the combined campaign and invited faculty and staff from their departments.

“We couldn’t meet our goal without the support from the top and the cooperation of everyone involved,” said unit coordinator Andy Nowel, senior academic advisor and curriculum coordinator. “In the years I’ve been doing this, the best thing is the camaraderie of the people involved.”

That spirit helped NC State put the combined campaign over the top in a year when many charities are struggling, said Dr. Phil Westerman, campaign chair and professor of biological and agricultural engineering. “We know that our faculty and staff receive requests for donations from many groups, and we’re grateful they responded to the combined campaign.” Contributions were up by more than $20,000 from 2008.

Team captains, unit coordinators and those from units with the highest participation were honored at a celebration on Dec. 15, 2009.

Where will the money go? Though final figures for 2009 won’t be compiled until spring, these charities received the largest share of designated donations from NC State employees in 2008:

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Nov. 19, 2009 edition ofThe Bulletin: The people, news and ideas that shape NC State University.