Charitable campaign an opportunity to help others

By Erin Prather Stafford / October-November 2010

UT Southwestern employees last year raised nearly $471,000 in the annual State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC), with 12 percent of employees participating in the campaign, a 20 percent increase over the previous year.

The SECC gives UT Southwestern employees an opportunity to express their commitment to supporting worthwhile causes that can positively affect charitable organizations throughout the state, nation and world. The deadline to participate in this year’s campaign is Nov. 30.

“The campaign presents employees with an abundant array of charitable agencies to which they can specify and direct their support,” said Dr. Gordon Green, professor of family and community medicine and pediatrics, and UT Southwestern SECC campaign chairman. “Almost everyone has a family member or friend who has benefited from the activities of one or more of these agencies.  In these difficult economic times, these deserving agencies and their clients need our help more than ever.”

SECC organizers choose approved charities by weighing several factors: The charity must be recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization, be audited annually, provide direct or indirect health and human services, and spend no more than 25 percent of funds raised on administration and fundraising, with a few exceptions.

This year the new administrator of the campaign is the Community Health Charities of Texas. As part of the group’s agreement with SECC, the cost for processing donations has decreased from 15 percent to 11 percent, ensuring even more funding reaches charities.

Ron Doris, administrative manager in the Department of Physiology, became well-known across campus last year after he donned a banana suit for four days in exchange for employees in his department exceeding their SECC fundraising goal.

Mr. Doris challenged his co-workers in physiology because he has never forgotten how the American Red Cross helped him and his family when he flew Cold War aerial surveillance missions for the Air Force.

Giving through the campaign is simple. Every department has a designated SECC unit coordinator whose role is to provide basic information, answer questions and ensure that each employee has the opportunity to consider giving. Department coordinators also are responsible for handling cash and check donations that are submitted with the appropriate SECC forms.

The easiest way to give is through payroll deduction. Employees can designate the charities of their choice through the SECC and have their gift deducted from paychecks. This spreads giving over the year and increases the impact every employee can make to those causes they choose to support. Cash and checks also are accepted. 

“Even a modest contribution may make a difference in someone’s life,” Dr. Green said. “I ask that every employee review the list of charitable agencies. Find one or two or three charities that speak to your heart. Let’s show the community that UT Southwestern employees are willing to answer the call to make a difference.”