Charity begins at home for new Community Campaign

By Daniel J. Fitzgibbons

After leading all state agencies in charitable giving for the past six years, the campus is going solo this year with a goal of raising $380,000 and boosting participation to 40 percent.

The independent effort was officially launched at a Nov. 9 breakfast in the Lincoln Campus Center attended by departmental coordinators and campus leaders. Perennial campaign chair George Parks, director of the Minuteman Marching Band, formally announced the move to the audience.

“We’re going off on our own,” he said. “We’re doing the University of Massachusetts Community Campaign.”

UMACC, as the new campaign has been dubbed, succeeds the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employee Charitable Campaign or COMECC, a statewide effort under the aegis of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance for the past 18 years. UMACC retains the campus’s old “Caring & Sharing” slogan.

“We evaluated COMECC and discussed suggestions offered by campus employees,” says Gloria Fox, director of the annual appeal, “and we decided to offer a program that was more responsive to our staff and faculty.”

The biggest difference, Fox told the kickoff breakfast crowd, is that employees can now choose to support any charity through their gifts. Undesignated donations will be distributed to organizations participating in the campaign in the same proportion that they received through designated gifts.

The move to a campus-managed campaign is also expected to reduce overhead costs, according to Fox. Last year, 9 percent of donations went to cover COMECC’s administrative expenses, but this year the cost is expected to be about half that amount.

While pledge forms are currently being distributed across campus, the campaign is already off to a healthy start, thanks to the 286 members of the Leaders’ Circle – those employees who contribute $500 or more to the appeal. Tom O’Brien, dean of the Isenberg School of Management, chairs the Leaders’ Circle.

Although the Leaders’ Circle sets the pace of the Community Campaign, says Fox, “You should make your own best gift” since every donation helps others.

And that is the essence of the campaign, Chancellor John Lombardi told the breakfast attendees.

“What distinguishes Americans from the rest of the world is that we feel a personal obligation to help people in need,” he said. “This campaign is one of the ways to bring everyone together who shares that sense of personal responsibility.”