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The Brown Gives Green campaign, an annual employee-centered charity drive, has kicked off a new season of giving after raising nearly $180,000 last year.

At the head of the drive this year are Karen Davis, vice president for human resources, and Professor of Physics Chung-I Tan, chair of the Faculty Executive Committee.

Fundraising began Nov. 1 and officially ends Dec. 31, but the coordinators will "accept your money at the beginning of January, too," Davis said. Though the fundraising program usually starts in mid-October, the managers elected to begin in November because they "decided it would be more efficient to narrow the time frame," she said.

All the proceeds of the campaign will be given to two local charity organizations, the Fund for Community Progress and United Way of Rhode Island. Donors can choose which organization and specific program within the charity receives their donation, Davis said.

The fundraising program does not have a specific monetary goal, said Angela Hilliard, manager of employee programs and charity coordinator. "We are much more concerned about increasing the number of people that donate," Hilliard said, though they are aiming to improve on last year's total proceeds. The program registered 345 donors last fall, a 30 percent increase from the year before.

Employees founded the drive about twenty years ago, though the campaign's name was changed from "Brown Charities Drive" to "Brown Gives Green" for last year's program, Hilliard and Davis said.

People can donate money by completing charity forms or, starting last year, through an online payroll deduction, an option half of the donors chose. The written forms will be sent out later this week, Davis said.

The drive includes what has been dubbed "Change for Change," a program to collect small sums of money from many people, which yielded $1,475 in donations last year. The program is organized by site coordinators in most departments that manage the donation boxes (which are used mayonnaise jars).

Site coordinators also organize charity events, such as yard sales and lunches. Last year, Brown Dining Services gave out candy for change on Halloween and the Department of Psychology held a bake sale.

This year, Hilliard said, the Watson Institute for International Studies and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior are holding five-minute massage sessions for donors in their departments, provided by members of the Brown University Relaxation Project.

Hilliard said she regularly provides the site coordinators with updates about the drive and comes up with "new strategies to promote the campaign." Last week, for example, she suggested that all site coordinators incorporate the charities' logos in their e-mail signatures.

Another Brown Gives Green initiative is the Bookstore Roundup, a program in which Bookstore cashiers ask customers at checkout if they would like to round up their orders to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to charity. Nicholas Lopez, Bookstore staff cashier, said about 60 percent of customers have contributed to the initiative. The proceeds of this strategy amounted to $1,300 last year.

To create excitement around the campaign, this year's drive places emphasis on prizes to donors, Davis and Hilliard said. The campaign decreased its printing budget in order to create awards — $25 Bookstore gift certificates — for certain first-time donors. At the end of the drive, the coordinators will also give four random donors the "Giving Fever" prize: $100 gift certificates to the Faculty Club. Site coordinators that come up with original fundraising ideas can aspire to win the "Most Creative ‘Fun'-raiser" award.

But coordinators are still trying to come up with fresh ideas.

"We need to do more," Hilliard said. "There are potentially 5,000 people who can give on this campus."

 




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