One spring morning in 2002, LCCC employees arrived at work to find a strange gift on their desks: live grass growing in a plastic cup, with a tee planted in the middle holding a chocolate golf ball. The attached note read, “Thanks for Chipping In!”
This was the beginning of the LCCC Foundation’s first annual Employee Giving Campaign, a week-long series of events and activities planned to increase awareness of the Foundation and its programs. It all started with a conversation between Brenda Laird, who at the time worked in the Financial Aid Office, and the Foundation’s Associate Director, Sabrina Lane. Employee giving was not what they knew it could be, and they attributed that to a lack of awareness.
Randy Fetzer, English and humanities instructor, agrees. “I was a recipient of the benefits of the Foundation, but I didn’t know how I could be involved,” he said. “People just needed to be invited to participate, have the process explained, and have it be an easy process for them to become involved.” When this happened, Fetzer not only became a contributor but a member of the Employee Giving Campaign committee.
The goal of the committee is to make Employee Giving Week something to look forward to, not just another pledge drive. The week of gifts, prize drawings and events revolves around a different theme each year. The committee won a national award for its circus-themed campaign for 2007, which included a family event featuring committee members dressed as clowns and elephants, carnival games, Stars of Tomorrow talent performing in the center ring, and a drawing for tickets to Cirque de Soleil.
“It’s a fun way to bring awareness,” Laird said. “It’s all in how you ask.”
She must know what she’s talking about. Before the campaigns began in 2002, employee giving averaged around $6,000 per year. Since July of 2004, less than five years ago, LCCC employees have pledged close to $320,000. The fact that these pledges will be matched by the State through the Matching the Spirit campaign has motivated several employees, including Fetzer, to endow scholarships. “With the dollar-for-dollar match, I know it would be endowed in a very short period of time,” Fetzer said. “I said, ‘Wow, I won’t have to wait until I’m 80 to see a student benefit from the scholarship!’”
Employees who have been longtime financial supporters of LCCC are also excited about the collegewide awareness and participation in recent years. “Brenda and the Foundation have been doing a wonderful job of showing the employees how we can assist our students,” business instructor Ed Mosher said.
Mosher has contributed to the Foundation since 1985, and began funding the George Woolsey Memorial Scholarship in 2002. He believes that the recent increase in employee giving is due not only to awareness but to the conscientiousness of the Foundation. “The Foundation has earned my confidence,” he said. “We as employees can always trust that they use the funds they received most effectively to directly assist students.”
Laird agrees that this has been a factor in increased employee participation. “People see that we’re doing what we say we’re doing,” she said. “They know the money is going toward scholarships and programs, and that students are benefiting. It’s really blossoming, and that’s exciting.”