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United Way giving

SmallCorp has held a company United Way Workplace Giving Campaign for many years. I recently wondered why the employees here are such committed and generous supporters of the United Way and its member programs — aside from the fact that I know my employees are all just really wonderful people! I learned that their reasons ranged from “My grandmother is helped by Meals on Wheels” to “It makes me feel good to help out my neighbors.”

It turns out that almost everyone had a connection to the organization and at least one of its 24 Partner Agencies. Employee children go to Camp Kee-wanee, families participate in activities at the YMCA in Greenfield, the Center for New Americans helps with the transition to life in a new country, and several families have children that are active in the Boy and Girl Scout troops in their towns.

Supporting the United Way of Franklin County through their annual campaign is a positive way for our employees to contribute to the health and strength of their communities.

Then, after hearing all the reasons why our employees donate, I asked them if they would donate to the United Way if SmallCorp didn’t hold a Workplace Giving Campaign. All but two said “no.” Employees told me they had never given before because it seemed like something only “rich” people did or they had never given before because they had never been asked to participate.

We try to make the option to give easy for our employees and easy for our company. Our employees can donate a lump sum, donate through a credit card payment or choose to have a payroll deduction taken right from their check. At SmallCorp, we match every employee gift one-for-one by the company. For example, when someone chooses to pledge $1/week (for a total of $52/year) and we add in the company match of $52/year, a total of $104 is donated to the United Way for distribution to their Partner Agencies.

The first year we ran a Workplace Giving Campaign, most employees chose to donate $1/week and people soon realized that they didn’t even miss that dollar. The next year a few employees raised their pledge to $2/week and they still found that they didn’t miss those two dollars from their weekly pay. Now, we have some employees pledging $5/week and more, and we still match every single one of those dollars.

The United Way of Franklin County makes it easy for us as a company to participate in their campaign. When we have collected the pledge cards from our employees and have totaled their donations and determined the combined pledge for our company campaign, we have the option of sending in our payment to the United Way all at once, once a month, or once a quarter. From our end, the record-keeping is minimal and working with the United Way staff is a pleasure. They want to make it easy for us, too. They are always available to explain to us where the money goes (LOCAL DOLLARS, LOCAL PROGRAMS), how allocations to Partner Agencies are determined, and, they let us know how our gifts are making a difference in the lives of the people of Franklin County.

I would like to suggest that if you are a business owner and your company does not currently hold a United Way Workplace Giving Campaign — please consider joining with us in supporting the critical programs they make possible. If you are an employee and you work for a company that does not offer a weekly giving option — please talk to the leaders in your company and ask them to consider making that option possible for you. And, if you and your company are already generous participants, THANK YOU!

In this year, the 75th anniversary of the United Way of Franklin County, the need to support local programs is greater than ever.

You can reach the good people at the United Way of Franklin County by calling 413-772-2168, by emailing them at info@uw-fc.org or by going to their website at www.uw-fc.org. They will make it easy for you and your co-workers to make a difference right here in the county where you live, work, and raise your families.

Molly Wood is general manager, SmallCorp: The Small Corporation.

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