By Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli.

California counties already do so much for the people we serve. Counties provide for public safety and public health; we make sure buildings and restaurants are safe. Counties maintain roads and bridges, although we could use a little more help from the state in that regard. The point is, counties and county employees already do a great deal for those they serve, but I am greatly inspired by Sacramento County employees who have stepped up to contribute some of their own personal money to help people and organizations in need.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors recently received a report on the annual Employees’ Giving Campaign, and if you’ll allow me to boast just a little bit, Sacramento County employees raised or contributed more than $250,000 in 2016 – that’s pretty darn good for a county with fewer than 12,000 employees.

With any program like this, there are some key things that folks should strive for in making a campaign like this work.

  • Lead from in front — get senior management involved in the effort.
  • Let people choose which organization will benefit from their donation.
  • Make it easy to give by removing barriers.
  • Make it fun.

Sacramento County’s Employees’ Giving Campaign does all of these.

Four different department heads lead the campaign committee so employees know there is executive level buy-in. Employees are never obligated to give but we do want them to feel like giving is an important part of being in the county family. For example, the Board of Supervisors and the Clerk’s office conducted an event which raised more than $2,000. Leadership counts!

Sacramento County worked directly with five major charitable federations thereby opening multiple avenues for giving. We also developed a list of dozens of smaller nonprofits serving our community and let our employees choose where their donations would go.

We also make it easy to give through an electronic application that’s part of our payroll system.  The EPledge function in our payroll system is relatively simple to navigate and makes giving easy and painless.  Employees can choose how much they want to give and which organizations they want to receive their donation.

And finally, we try to make this fun. Different departments develop their own ideas for fundraisers — everything from simple gift baskets with delectable treats to a golf tournament spearheaded by our Chief Information Officer and the Department of Technology were held to raise money.  The golf tournament alone raised $63,500 for the Sacramento Children’s Home, Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento and the Court Appointed Special Advocates.  We capped it off with a 5k fun run/walk. These activities raise money but also build morale and a sense of camaraderie within and between different work groups.

Sacramento County has taken the same approach to employee giving for several years now, and it works, not just because we make it easy and fun but because County leaders have said and continue to say “this matters.”  The Sacramento County Employees’ Giving Campaign asks our employees to step outside their comfort zone just a little bit by giving of their money as well as their time and attention to worthy organizations.

The annual campaign sparks some healthy competition between work groups and fosters cooperation and coordination among employees who might not typically work together. Through the generosity of our employees, we’re making our community a little stronger – and making Sacramento County just a little bit better for all of us.

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Originally posted at the California State Association of Counties.