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June 25, 2001

Four federations added to Emory's giving partnerships

By Eric Rangus


Come October, Emory’s corporate giving program will have a new look. Responding to a long-held desire to expand the range of employee charitable contributions, the Office of Corporate Relations has invited four additional federations to join the United Way as charitable partners.

Community Health Charities of Georgia, Earth Share of Georgia, Georgia Black United Fund and Georgia Shares will join longtime Emory partner United Way to provide the University community with more than 400 individual charitable agencies from which to choose—a 60 percent increase from previous years.

The four federations focus on health-related issues, the environment, support to minority communities and social and economic justice, respectively.

“People have said that the reason they don’t give is because they don’t have enough choices,” said Michelle Smith, executive director of corporate relations. “Have I got a deal for them,” she laughed.

A new program deserves a new name and this one has been christened Emory Gives. The campaign covers all Emory’s elements: the University, Oxford College, the clinic, Emory and Crawford Long hospitals, and Wesley Woods.

The effort to recruit new federations for the giving program began in the mid-1990s and was spearheaded by Jim Wilson, then a professor of cell biology. A member of the Atlanta Audubon Society, Wilson sought to widen the scope of Emory’s giving to include environmental concerns—an area not touched by United Way.

“We felt that giving would go up across the board if other organizations could take part,” said Wilson, who retired from Emory in 2000, but remains with the Audubon Society.

Starting in 1995, Wilson lobbied to change the policy, but had little success until 1999 when he approached first student environmental groups, then Employee Council, then the University Senate, all of whom endorsed his plan.

President Bill Chace agreed when he heard Wilson and Alice Rolls, executive director of the Environmental Fund for Georgia (the former name of Earth Share of Georgia) address the senate.

Chace then asked the Senate to research the feasibility of expansion. Then-president John Boli created an adhoc committee led by Steve Hochman of the Carter Center to consider the issues involved, and in March 2000 the committee formally recommended to Chace that the workplace giving program be expanded to include new federations.

Upon receiving the report, Chace tasked Smith to design what has now become Emory Gives. She provided Chace her plan earlier this year, and in May it was approved.

The four new foundations, were, according to Smith, “the squeaky wheels that got the grease.” In other words, they successfully lobbied to be included in Emory Gives.

Smith plans a multimedia assault to promote Emory Gives. A new website and a four-to-six-minute video presentation are just two of the tools she will use. Smith also said she hopes to speak to as many campus organizations and staff meetings as possible to spread the word.

“This is a new and different campaign,” she said. “In order to make it a success, people have to understand it.”

With the wider range of choices, the donation process will increase in complexity, but not overly so.

“It will involve more effort and energy, certainly,” Smith said. “But in any new enterprise, that’s what happens. If you’re not willing to put in the time up front, then you’re not really committed. And I think Emory is clearly committed.”

Not only will faculty and staff be able to donate money, but they will also be able to give their time as Emory Gives contains a volunteer component. Smith said she is still working on the details, but she has already contacted the Office of University-Community Partnerships, the Division of Campus Life, the Office of Government and Community Affairs and Volunteer Emory to explore teaming arrangements.

This first year will be an experimental one. Smith said several other foundations have contacted her office about being included in the future, so the partners may change.

The time frame of the giving program, however, will not change. It starts Oct. 1, and concludes Dec. 31.


Back to Emory Report June 25, 2001