Bad economy not stopping CVC giving

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December 4, 2008

11:52 PM

Some members of the faculty and staff at the College of William and Mary aren’t letting a national recession stop them from making charitable donations to the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign, a fundraising effort involving all Virginia state employees.

When a College employee donates to the CVC, he or she can designate up to four different charities to receive funds. The CVC program, which has been donating to charities since 1997, have a list of nearly 1,300 local and national organizations for donors to choose from on their website.

Nine weeks into this year’s fundraising drive, 246 College employees have donated $81,577, up from the 171 who had given $66,238 at this point in 2007.

Both figures are still short of campaign goals set by organizers, who hope to raise $120,000 from 350 individuals by the conclusion of the drive on Dec. 15. Last year, 338 College employees donated $115,113.

Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D ’06, an honorary co-chair of the CVC Leadership Committee, was pleased with this year’s higher participation figures.

“It’s really heartening to see that people are giving,” Ambler said. “It shows that our community recognizes that when the economy is in this state people are in greater need than ever.”

Employees can opt to give their donation in one single payment or have the amount deducted from their paychecks in installments over the course of the year. Ambler said this arrangement is advantageous to the employee and to charities which tend to see a spike in donations around the holidays but experience a lull in giving the remainder of the year.

According to a notice sent to faculty at the beginning of this year’s drive, fewer than 25 percent of faculty gave in 2007, down from the one-third who donated in previous years. The goal for 2008 is to bring faculty participation back up to one-third, an aim that may fall short in a semester that has seen salary increases postponed and hiring halted.

Although the fundraising effort is still in progress, government professor Clay Clemens, also a member of the CVC Leadership Committee, indicated that faculty participation would probably be lower than in past years. As of Tuesday, 101 faculty members had contributed to the CVC.

“If I had to guess right now, I’d say we are lagging a bit based on past years, but we are hopeful that the final push will bring it up to about one-third,” he said in an e-mail.

While Clemens cited the economy as the single greatest cause of reduced faculty donations, other factors affecting the College’s budget are also contributing to the decline. Clemens pointed to an initiative aimed at decreasing paper use as another possible explanation for fewer faculty donations.

“[In] the effort to avoid wasting paper, we have stopped sending out hard copies of catalogs and donation forms to every faculty [and staff] member; people noted how many ended up getting tossed,” he said. “So this year we counted on a few paper reminders directing people to the website, which has all of the necessary materials. That has saved paper, but a number of people have said that having the forms right on their desk in the past was a kind of a necessary prod to the memory — and the conscience.”

Despite the weak economy and the paper-saving effort, organizers remain optimistic. Clemens indicated giving patterns over the past few years favor a strong finish.

“The pattern is usually a lot of contributions early, then a lull, and then a lot in the final days,” he said.

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