Putting the “fun” in fundraising

Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Eight women sit around a table wearing flower garlands and sunglasses.
Aloha: Staff at the Michaëlle Jean Centre for Global and Community Engagement put on flower leis and sunglasses at their Hawaiian-themed Employee Giving program launch.
By Mike Foster

For uOttawa employees, giving a few bucks from hard-earned paycheques is far from a painful experience. For many, the annual Employee Giving program is a chance to bond with colleagues and have some fun as they contribute to a worthy cause.

Many teams in departments across the University take an innovative approach to encouraging their workmates to donate to the various projects that support students. Team managers set participation targets as a way to motivate staff. Offers of free coffee and donuts are always welcome, of course, but some teams go well beyond that.

“To encourage participation, our managers offer incentives and some get really creative,” said Nigèle Langlois, science and engineering librarian at the Morisset Library.

Langlois says that with about 150 staff at 12 libraries on three University of Ottawa sites, departmental managers have tailored approaches to suit their teams. Last year, library staff had a 43% participation rate overall.

This year, Talia Chung, interim director of the Health Sciences Library, thought of a “feed and fold” event — an origami lesson and free snacks if 70% of her team donate to the 2016 “I Give” initiative. Joan Cavanagh, associate university librarian, is offering a sundae-making party, with syrups, sprinkles and goodies galore if staff reach their participation objective.

Meanwhile, the CO-OP and Careers team has set up a sophisticated sliding scale of incentives. The top prize, if 75% of employees participate in “I Give” by April 24, will be the chance to disguise CO-OP director Gaby St-Pierre. Each member of the team will bring in an accessory that St-Pierre will wear for a day, along with a shirt bearing the slogan “My team beat its target!” If 60% of the team donate, there will be a raffle draw for two bottles of wine as well as Timbits, biscuits and coffee for the entire team.

Luau launch

Over at the Michaëlle Jean Centre for Global and Community Engagement, placement officer Sharmaine Nelles said staff held a “mini-luau” this year during a coffee break to highlight the Employee Giving program. They wore flower leis and sunglasses, ate Aloha cake, watched videos of Hawaiian beach scenes and listened to Hawaiian music.

“We see the Employee Giving program as an opportunity to celebrate our commitment as employees to enhancing the uOttawa student experience,” Nelles said. “For us, the celebration usually includes cake, and this year our chocolate Hawaiian-themed cake was awesome! Last year, 86% of the Centre’s staff participated in the Employee Giving program by making a donation. This year, we hope that we will reach 100%.”

Clearly the carnival atmosphere and good feeling again this year means that the Employee Giving program is off to a roaring start. Can your team top these original ideas?

The stories of 34 University employees who are publicly saying “I give” to the program are featured on posters around campus. The campaign, which concludes on April 15, raises funds for student scholarships and activities chosen by the donor.

The Employee Giving program is part of Defy the Conventional, the University’s largest fundraising campaign, which aims to raise $400 million.

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