Online charity aids 600 groups

The season for giving is already underway for University faculty and staff.

The 2010 Campus Charitable Fund Drive kicked off Sept. 20 and will continue until Nov. 12.

Since 1929, the drive has provided numerous umbrella agencies with the funds needed to assist their charity and business operations.

“The chancellor’s fund drive allows faculty and staff to make an impact in the community,” said Maureen Banks, chair of the organization.

The drive is held once a year and donations are given to 11 agencies certified by the state. Under these 11 umbrella agencies, there are more than 600 organizations available to faculty and staff. Donors can choose which organizations receive their gift. Otherwise, the funds are split within the umbrella agency.

Faculty and staff can also opt for payroll deduction “to make it as easy as possible,” Banks said.

Last year’s goal was $1.4 million. Because of harsh economic times, Banks said, this year’s goal will remain the same. The theme, “Every Gift Matters,” was also maintained.

Banks said she believes people feel their actions are insignificant compared to the bigger picture.

“The University can offer so much more help to people in the community if we work together,” she added. “Regardless of size, it’s important for people to give because the need is so great.”

Participating in the drive is strictly on a volunteer basis, but Banks said they try to get participation to make a statement.

Two of the 11 agencies that benefit from the drive are Community Shares of Illinois and Earth Share of Illinois.

Nick Quealy-Gainer, project manager for Community Shares of Illinois, said there are 75 members of Community Shares. The funds from the drive go toward their budget.

“Members rely on us to stay alive,” Quealy-Gainer said.

Since Community Shares is an agency with many local organizations, Quealy-Gainer said a “good chunk” of donors choose to contribute to the agency.

“The University of Illinois fund drive has been one of the largest fund drives we have had and one of the most consistent,” he added.

Although Community Shares has seen a decrease in other donations because of the struggling economy, Quealy-Gainer said there has been an increase in donations through the University drive.

“We rely on the University of Illinois donors to help promote our members,” Quealy-Gainer said.

He said several of the organizations have connections to University outlets such as the Tenant Union and campus food pantries.

Elizabeth Kossik, campaign director of Earth Share of Illinois, also said the drive is their largest contributor. Last year, they received $75,297 from them alone, which included individual donations and pledges.

“Public employees are more consistent than the private sector,” Kossik said.

Earth Share saw an increase of 1.72 percent last year. Funds from Earth Share go toward local members, which include organizations for pollution prevention, wildlife conservation and habitat protection.

The Campus Charitable Fund Drive is comprised of 12 members who serve on the advisory board.

As chair, Banks said she helps plan the drive, and she works with the chancellor to identify and set goals and determine the theme.

The advisory board provides training for volunteers and works closely with college and unit leaders, who manage the drive from their area.

“When they put their heart and soul into it, they make it happen,” Banks said of the appointed college and unit leaders. “They are out on the front lines approaching people and asking them to participate.”