Publications & Products
Volume 5, Issue 6

District Makes Employee Engagement Fun–and Successful

The key to successful employee engagement - at least for a community college district in California—apparently starts with conga lines.

That's how organizers kicked off a new initiative called "Foundation Awareness Month" in October at the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges. The district chancellor and two college presidents each led a conga line that ended with an ice cream party and brief presentation about the foundation.

The month-long campaign, which was conceived only in August, paid off handsomely. The number of employees participating more than doubled, and total employee giving increased 119 percent to more than $52,000, reports John Valencia, associate vice chancellor - Advancement and Communications for the district. Plus, by emphasizing payroll deductions, the average gift of $29 per pay period will equate to a $319 annual gift.

The three-person foundation staff executed most of the campaign elements, which included a video produced by the development director using free online software, weekly postcard mailings, information booths and presentations to different constituent groups.

The greatest expense was $2,200 for 140 yard signs (many of which can be re-used) that were placed throughout the two campuses. The total budget: roughly $5,000.

Valencia says getting buy-in from key constituent groups before the campaign led to its success. Maintenance, for example, had to be OK with moving yard signs to mow during the month.

UmbrellasContributors were entered into a weekly raffle, which was broadcast live via YouTube, and was so popular that the staff will continue to do a drawing each month. A partner donated a trip to Costa Rica as a grand prize, so they attached colorful mini umbrellas to postcards that went into employee mailboxes.

Foundation board members staffed information booths, which helped add more than 200 students to the alumni association and increased awareness of scholarship availability.

They also leveraged an existing retiree event, resulting in more than $3,000 for a new Retiree Network Scholarship.

"It was a lot of work," Valencia says, "but it was completely worth every single extra moment. In addition to the employee involvement, we built relationships with our board, with retirees and got students involved."

This article is from the December 2015 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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