Ent Federal Credit Union broke a personal record this year for charity, raising $124,516 for the United Way. But it didn't ask its members for the money. Donations were collected solely from employees, via payroll deductions and internal fundraising.
During the annual campaign, all 611 employees of the Colorado Springs-based credit union were emailed a link to the payroll department of the company's intranet, from which they could choose a variety of ways to contribute. Individual employees' donations ranged from $5 per paycheck to more than $1,000 over the course of the year, and Ent recognized the top contributors with a special "Leaders in Giving" breakfast. Employees could even choose to donate some of their paid time off to the charity. Until employees took the time to decide whether to sign up for the payroll deduction or explicitly decline to participate, they received periodic e-mail reminders spurring them to action, and in this way the credit union managed to raise about $100,000 of the total amount donated this year.
The $3 billion credit union found creative ways to raise the rest of the money, according to Barb Winter, Ent FCU's senior vice president of organizational resources. In addition to fundraising barbecues, bake sales and dress-down days, she explained, the credit union also hosted a gift basket contest. Each service center and department created a gift basket with a unique theme, such as "Family Game Night" or "The Ultimate Man Cave," to be judged by local United Way representatives and then auctioned off online. Senior management did its part to help by serving food at the credit union's annual fundraising breakfast.
The recipients of Ent's donation were Pike's Peak United Way and United Way of Pueblo County, local outlets of United Way of America, a charity that focuses on promoting education, healthcare and financial stability for children and families. The local organizations work with several nonprofits throughout Ent's footprint in Colorado.
Despite the poor economy, the credit union has managed to raise more than $100,000 for the United Way every year for the past four years.