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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Jul/Aug 2001:Directing Support


FRONTLINES


"I Gave at the Office, and You Can, Too."
Directing your support to those who can make a difference.


By VICTORIA HYLA

Earth Share was founded in 1988 by a group of 18 national environmental and conservation groups that recognized the importance of forming America’s first national environmental federation. As such, Earth Share works to promote environmental education and charitable giving through workplace giving campaigns. It is an opportunity, a system and an answer for environmentally conscious employees and workplaces to support dozens of environmental groups at once through a charitable giving drive. Its continuing goal is to provide and expand opportunities for working people to have an easy and effective way to help the environment, and in doing so, help ensure the preservation of the world’s natural heritage.

Earth Share encourages employees of the companies involved to pledge a small amount of each paycheck to help solve environmental problems. In allowing employees to make donations through workplace payroll deduction campaigns, Earth Share raised approximately $4.5
million in its first year and now raises more than $8 million dollars per year for
its member charities.

Importantly, with Earth Share, you don’t have to choose between air, water, land or wildlife because its member charities represent a wide array of environmental issues; just one general donation to Earth Share can touch all of these causes. Employees can choose to allocate their tax-deductible gift among all of Earth Share’s agencies. On the other hand, if you have a preference, you can direct your gift to a specific member agency and cause. Surveys show that employee giving rises dramatically when greater choices are presented in an existing campaign. Giving more choices means that more money is raised overall for charity—the ultimate goal of any workplace giving campaign.

The choice is yours. Think about the following questions and answers for more insight about the program:

WHO'S INVOLVED IN EARTH SHARE?


Earth Share’s member charities are not just any organizations that form suddenly and want funding. The Earth Share federation functions as a “screening” agent, ensuring its donors that only those agencies with qualifying environmental and conservation programs will be participating in a company’s campaign. Earth Share requires applicant agencies to meet 17 different criteria before even being considered for membership in the federation (see sidebar, page 15). Its strict eligibility criteria were established so donors could be sure that Earth Share only represents outstanding charities that operate with the highest possible ethical and professional standards.

All current members undergo annual reviews to ensure their continued adherence to the membership requirements. Representing the most respected and responsible environmental and conservation organizations in the country, Earth Share’s member agencies work locally, nationally and internationally to pro-tect and preserve all elements of the environment.

Earth Share partners with hundreds of corporate, federal and public workplaces across the country to give employees the choice and satisfaction of supporting vital environmental programs and initiatives. Its workplace campaigns boost employee morale and help establish a workplace as an environmental leader.

In addition to businesses, Earth Share has state partners in California, New York, Texas and Washington. They can include local environmental and conservation charities from their states in addition to Earth Share’s national members. Thus, employers in these states can offer their employees an expanded list of environmental charities as well as receive local campaign support.

Earth Share has also partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to inform businesses about the cost-saving and pollution-reducing benefits of the EPA’s Energy Star and Green Lights voluntary business programs.

With the Advertising Council, Earth Share gets the word out through its
environmental public service campaign, which is distributed to more than 11,000 media outlets twice each year. To date, Earth Share’s public service campaign has received more than $270 million in donated media since being launched in 1992—making it one of the largest environmental public service media campaigns in history.

Its ads can be seen and heard across the country. Earth Share National Council member, actor Harrison Ford, has narrated three of Earth Share’s public service announcements (PSAs), including the latest release, “This Is.” Also, actor Keifer Sutherland narrated its PSA entitled “Reflections.”

HOW CHARITIES MAKE THE GRADE
MIMIMUM ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR EARTH SHARE MEMBER CHARITIES


  • It has conducted programs in at least
    15 states or one foreign country.

  • It is tax exempt under 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)
    as a scientific, educational or charitable
    organization and is eligible to receive
    deductible contributions
    under 26 U.S.C. 170.

  • Its primary mission is to protect and
    enhance the natural environment or
    conserve natural resources.

  • It accounts for its funds using generally
    accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
    and is audited annually by an independent
    certified public accountant.

  • It is governed by an active and responsible
    governing body, a majority of whose
    members serve without compensation and
    who have no material conflict of interest
    .
  • Its fund-raising and administrative costs do
    not exceed 25 percent of total support and
    revenue. (The overhead rates of most
    agencies are much less, and Earth Share’s
    overhead is less than 10 percent).

  • It affirms that it is a human health
    and welfare organization that provides
    services, benefits or assistance or
    conducts activities that benefit human
    health and welfare.

  • It affirms that its fund-raising practices
    protect against unauthorized use of its
    contributor lists and permits no general
    telephone solicitation of the public and
    no payment of commissions, finder's fees,
    percentages, bonuses or similar practices
    in connection with fund-raising
    .
  • It affirms that its publicity and promotional
    activities are based upon its actual
    programs and operations, are truthful
    and non-deceptive, include all material
    facts and make no exaggerated or
    misleading claims.

  • It affirms that the funds contributed
    are effectively used for the announced
    purposes of the organization.

  • It prepares an annual report that is made
    available to the general public, includes
    a full description of the organization’s
    activities and supporting services and
    identifies its directors and chief
    administrative personnel.

  • It provides a copy of the organization’s
    most recent IRS Form 990 tax return.

  • It has been in existence for three
    years prior to applying to Earth Share by
    providing copies of the IRS Form 990 for
    those years.

  • It is established as a “permanent”
    organization (i.e., one whose mission is
    not limited by the termination of some
    project or campaign).

  • It meets all other requirements for
    membership in Earth Share as set forth
    in its by-laws and is committed to working
    cooperatively and positively with all other
    Earth Share members, though they may
    disagree on organizational policies and
    environmental issues.

  • It is not a private foundation, private
    private operating foundation or communnity
    foundation.

  • It does not advocate illegal direct action.

  • It can and wll pay all application
    and membership fees.


WHY SHOULD MY COMPANY GET INVOLVED?

It’s good for the world.

Earth Share is a preserver, a protector and an educator. Health, environment, diversity, international development and relief and social justice issues that affect companies, communities and families are not fully addressed through the traditional United Way-only campaign.

It’s good for business.


Nearly 80 percent of surveyed Americans favor companies with a pro-environment image, and of those, almost 75 percent said they’re more likely to support companies and products associated with an environmental group. A company can position itself as a leader on the environmental front by including Earth Share in its charitable campaign. Employees, managers and shareholders alike consider the environment vitally important.

Employees want it.


More and more employees are becoming concerned about environmental causes and issues. Introducing an environmental choice to a campaign means that employees who were not previously participating will now get involved. Because most employee groups include a diversity of race, culture, gender, age, interests and beliefs, employees should be able to choose from a variety of charities that reflect their own interests.

Employees can donate conveniently through a payroll deduction program that Earth Share can help your company set up. Earth Share has a team of volunteers and staff available to make presentations; provide posters, brochures and videos; and offer new and vital energy to a campaign. Earth Share and its agencies can be easily added to existing campaign materials, or it can provide its own brochures and pledge cards for distribution to each employee.

Many companies have already gotten involved in a big way. Forth Worth, TX-based American Airlines hosted its first combined campaign in 2000 that featured Earth Share and other charity federations. The charity agency fair enabled employees to learn more about the charities and encourage their participation. Earth Share received from the major airline support to the tune of $110,036.

Entercom, Bala Cynwyd, PA, a nationwide owner of radio stations, ran an active campaign with several presentations by Earth Share and its member agencies throughout the country. Entercom has already raised $42,000 for Earth and its COO, David Field, has become a National Council member.

In addition, look at these results. Compaq, Houston, TX, hosted its second Earth Share campaign, tripling its previous year’s donations from $15,431 to $46,842. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA, increased its campaign contributions by $9,000 from last year’s pledges. Also, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Earth Share campaign saw an increase of 44 percent in 2000.

WHAT CAN I DO?


Having Earth Share in a workplace charity drive is easier than you think. The federation makes it its business to ensure that Earth Share can be added swiftly and simply to company giving options. Earth Share’s expertise is working with companies to minimize costs and customize campaigns to meet a corporation’s needs.

Earth Share offers on-line tips and resources to companies hosting Earth Share campaigns to help make each campaign a success, including free campaign materials such as posters, videos, brochures, pledge forms and give-away-items for campaign raffles.

Even if your company does not want to get involved on a grand scale, you, as an individual, can do your part. At the least, you can feature Earth Share on your Web site. The Ad Council offers free, downloadable Earth Share public service banner ads for placement on Web sites interested in fulfilling a social responsibility and/or filling remnant ad space.

On the other hand, if you would like to help support environmental causes now, you can make a direct donation to Earth Share. Your gift to Earth Share will be distributed among all of its member charities or to those that you designate. Either way, your support will have an immediate impact on protecting the environment and improving people’s lives.

The contributions to Earth Share through workplace campaigns are making a real difference. Every little bit helps—just $2 per pay period adds up to an annual gift of $50 or more. Still, many wonder, “How much of my contribution really goes to the charities?” Earth Share has one of the lowest overheads of any comparable federation—more than 90 percent of
donations go directly to environmental programs.

For more information about setting up the program in your company, or to give support to it and the environment, call (800) 875-3863; e-mail: info@earth share.org; or visit www.earthshare.org.

MEMBER CHARITIES WAITING FOR YOUR HELP
.African Wildlife Foundation
American Farmland Trust
American Forests
American Rivers
Americans for the Environment
Beyond Pesticides
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Clean Water Fund
Conservation Fund, The
Conservation International
Defenders of Wildlife
Earth Day Network
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund
Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement
Environmental Defense
Environmental Justice Fund
Environmental Law Institute
Friends of the Earth
INFORM
Izaak Walton League of America
.
Land Trust Alliance
National Audubon Society
National Parks Conservation Association
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council
Nature Conservancy, The
Ocean Conservancy, The
(formerly Center for Marine Conservation)
Peregrine Fund, The
Pesticide Action Network
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Rainforest Alliance
Rocky Mountain Institute
Safe Energy Communication Council
Scenic America
Sierra Club Foundation, The
Student Conservation Association
Surfrider Foundation
Trust for Public Land, The
Union of Concerned Scientists
U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Wilderness Society, The


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