Support of the United Way is Comerica Bank’s largest annual philanthropic effort. And in Austin, 100% of Comerica employees are philanthropists.
In Texas, Comerica raised $666,738 with more than 99% of employees participating. In Austin specifically, the bank’s employees topped that with 100% participation. All 90 Austin employees donated a total of more than $24,000. Plus, they worked together to raise an additional $1,500 through a silent auction.
We spoke with Jon Eckert, Comerica Bank’s Senior Vice President and Group Manager of Business Banking in Austin, who again served as lead of this year’s Comerica UWATX campaign. We asked him how he got involved with United Way and to describe the efforts that inspired every Austin employee to participate.
How and when did you get involved in serving the United Way in Austin?
Soon after I started with Comerica in 2012, Pat Faubion (our Texas Market President at the time) asked me if I would help by leading the Austin effort. Of course, I didn’t hesitate to reply with an enthusiastic “yes!” Several years ago, after visiting some of the United Way agencies that they serve, I saw and heard firsthand how the United Way helps so many people. It was then that I truly became emotionally involved in the cause. That’s why I continue to step up to lead the campaign for Austin every year. Seeing our consistent participation year after year, it’s evident that my Austin colleagues feel the same way.
What inspires you to continue to be involved?
Like a number of my colleagues, I have observed United Way supported agencies like the Boys & Girls Club and Foundation Communities. It’s powerful seeing firsthand how many peoples’ lives—children and families—are positively affected by the dollars that we raise. It makes us all feel good knowing that we’re helping others with programs like this.
Explain how Austin’s program has grown, evolved since you became involved with it.
I led Austin’s campaign for the first time four years ago. That year, we all worked hard to get our entire workforce engaged. And, in each year that has followed, we’ve continued to improve our participation rate and the amount employees contribute. In fact, United Way gave us special recognition for our 2013 campaign because we achieved the greatest percentage increase in contributions from the year before.
Explain how competition has helped your office raise contributions.
As you may guess, bankers are very competitive by nature. So, our goal has always been to be the best overall participant in Comerica’s Texas market. Our United Way campaign—particularly the silent auction—provides an opportunity to have competitive fun and do something good at the same time.
This was your third silent auction, which was another means of building enthusiasm. Explain how this worked and how successful it was.
We sent invitations to all of our employees to attend this year’s silent auction, which was held near the end of our month-long campaign at a centrally located restaurant. We reserved a banquet room and served beverages and heavy hors d’oeuvres. About 50 employees attended, but we had participation from everyone. Our employees obtained all the auction items from their clients and community contacts. These items ranged from golf outings and restaurant meal certificates to free parking at our downtown office. We raised about $1,500, all of which was donated to UWATX. I thought this was a terrific result, especially since most of the donations from our grassroots effort were small dollar items. And, I’d like to give a special shout out to Tommy Elliott, a Business Relationship Banker in our Retail Group, who has helped me organize the auction every year. This was such a collaborative effort that really helped get folks excited!
What were the results of this year’s campaign?
Our combined efforts raised a total of about $25,500 (pledged contributions plus results of our silent auction) with 90 out of 90 employees participating. I’m pleased to report that nine percent of our employees were Leadership Givers (greater of 1% of their annual salary or $1,000), which is the second highest percentage in the nation. What’s more, 12% were Fair Share Givers (.85 percent of their annual salary), which is the third highest percentage nationwide. 21%t of our employees gave at these levels. Their generosity is really impressive.