When the Bears kick off against Washington State Saturday, Nov. 4, it will signal the beginning not only of a football game, but also of an ambitious two-month campus Charitable Campaign.
"We have set an ambitious goal for the campaign of doubling faculty and staff participation from 5 percent to 10 percent and raising $200,000 by the end of December," said Horace Mitchell, vice chancellor for business and administrative services and one of the campaign co-chairs.
"With VERIPs and budget cuts, fewer employees have participated in recent years and we have found our campus lagging behind other UC campuses," said Mitchell.
Nevertheless, Mitchell said, the campus community was very generous last year.
Last year's campaign, under the leadership of Louise Garrett, drew more than $136,444 in contributions to charitable groups.
Mitchell, who served as chair of the United Way board of Orange County before coming to Berkeley, now serves on the Bay Area United Way board. United Way is assisting the campus with logistical support for the campaign.
Mitchell acknowledged that employees may have some concerns about the United Way, but said the organization has made many positive changes in the past several years.
He said that 88 cents of every donor's dollar goes directly to the charities they identify, which compares favorably to many other non-profit organizations.
"One exciting new aspect of this year's campaign," said co-chair Linda Weimer, assistant vice chancellor for public affairs, is that the campus's new Berkeley Pledge program is included among the many giving options for faculty and staff.
"Many employees want to support and participate in the new outreach initiatives, and the charitable campaign will provide them with a way to do that," she said.
In addition, she said, United Way is including the Berkeley Pledge as a giving option for other Bay Area UC and company employees.
"We are going to do a better job of thanking donors this year," added Weimer.
"We plan to acknowledge every gift as soon as it comes in and to recognize departments with high donor participation at a 'Gourmet Gala' at International House in February."
Mitchell and Weimer are leading a team of staff and faculty that will be working hard over the next few months to meet the campaign goal.
"We hope everyone on campus will be generous. The needs in Berkeley and the Bay Area are greater than ever," said Kathryn Scott of the Human Biodynamics faculty.
Within the next week, employees will be getting their campaign materials in the mail.
Those who have questions are encouraged to call 642-0702 or to attend the Nov. 13 employee benefits fair in Pauley Ballroom where campaign committee members will be on hand to answer questions.
"Our campus depends on the generosity of donors to keep it strong," said Mitchell. "Other groups are de-pending on our generosity in the same way. The size of the gift is less important than the thought behind it."