Small gifts make a big difference. Employee Campaign helps ensure success of students.
When it comes to giving, a shining example is set by the employees of the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW). For over 30 years, UIW employees have contributed to the Employee Campaign, helping to provide students a superlative education.
On average, more than 80 percent of employees participate in giving to the campaign each year, a unique testament to their devotion and pride in fulfilling the Mission of Incarnate Word.
“UIW’s Employee Campaign is very successful,” said Ana Bribiesca ’12 BA, development associate for the Development Office. “Nationally our participation rate is above average.”
Based on a 2015 sample survey shared with the Development Office through CASE Fundraising Digest, UIW’s employee participation rate is well above the 50 percent average among universities nationally.
Last year, the campaign raised more than $175,000, exceeding Development’s goal of $165,000, with an employee participation rate of 84 percent. Bribiesca, who has coordinated the campaign for the last three years, said the goal this year was $165,000 with at least 85 percent participation.
Though the numbers are impressive, the initiative holds deeper meaning. “The campaign is a symbolic event that brings together our UIW family because faculty, staff and administrators unite to ensure a brighter future for the university,” explained Bribiesca.
“It’s important to give every year because the students need to be supported every year—especially since enrollment has increased almost every year for the past 30 years,” said Mary Jinks, library services, who has contributed to the campaign for over 25 consecutive years.
Bribiesca said employees’ gifts also help the university leverage support from corporations, foundations and other philanthropists.
Jon Gillespie, director of foundation, corporate, and government relations, agreed, stressing that donors always want to know how much of a “buy-in” employees have for UIW programs, and the campaign is direct evidence of this commitment.
“As a fundraiser, I know it’s important to show outside donors that UIW employees provide direct support to the university,” said Gillespie, who has contributed for over 20 consecutive years himself.
Employees can designate gifts to the campaign for the area of their choice. Development suggests on each donation form designated areas including the annual fund, scholarship fund, Cardinal athletics and campus beautification. However, every year there’s a focus, usually directed toward a sizeable university project or initiative. In 2014, the focus was the Fine Arts Campaign. The Student Engagement Center has been the focus for 2015 and 2016, according to Bribiesca.
“I generally give to the capital campaigns to improve the infrastructure at UIW: the new Fine Arts Complex, the Student Engagement Center opening in 2017, the (Ila Faye) Miller School of Nursing, all the way back to the Mabee Library in the 1990s,” said Gillespie.
“I usually designate my gift to go to the area that is recommended by Development. If I don’t choose the recommended area, then I designate my gift for the library because we can always use new resources,” Jinks said.
Each year the campaign has a theme. Bribiesca said this year’s theme, “We Are UIW,” reflected how all employees are part of one family, working for the UIW Mission.
The campaign is indeed a collaborative effort as employees are divided into teams, mostly by department, with each team led by one to two captains who serve as liaisons between the Development Office and the teams. Captains assist with handing out request letters, giveaways, collecting donation forms, and answering questions from team members.
Personalized request letters are created for each employee reminding them of the amount they donated in previous years. Employees are encouraged each year to participate in the next giving level. In addition, events are held to generate support, at which all raffle items are donated and local restaurants provide food at discounted rates to keep expenses to a minimum.
“We host a kickoff party to announce our goal, share any important details about the campaign and get everyone excited,” said Bribiesca. “We also host a finale where we announce the teams that achieved 100 percent participation, give out door prizes and do a raffle for the grand prize.”
“I like going to the campaign opening and closing because it’s a chance to visit with other coworkers I may not see in my usual workday,” said Gillespie. “Plus it’s always great to see the long list of contributors that circulates during the month-long campaign and see how many coworkers support the university’s Mission.”
The impact of these gifts, no matter the amount, is evident in the resources and facilities available to students.
Jinks said donating to the campaign helps employees to feel that besides doing their regular jobs that promote and facilitate the education of students, they are able to support UIW students even more by helping to fund a building or contributing to a scholarship.
“In the mid-90s, employees were encouraged to designate their campaign gifts to support the renovation and expansion of the library,” said Jinks. “I see students using technology, studying, and doing research every day in a facility that the Employee Campaign helped to become a reality.”
“New buildings and equipment help to recruit students to our university, and faculty appreciate having up-to-date teaching resources,” said Gillespie. “Just taking a tour through the new music building, hearing students in the numerous practice rooms, shows how our campaign dollars make a difference.”
UIW has been recognized as a “Great College to Work For” by the Chronicle of Higher Education for eight consecutive years and a “Top 10 Workplace in San Antonio” by the San Antonio Express-News for five consecutive years. For Bribiesca, these distinctions exemplify how UIW is truly a special place.
“The work we do, the time we give, the students we inspire, and our commitment to the UIW Mission continue to produce outstanding results,” said Bribiesca.
By Brance Arnold ’10 BA