Care enough to give: why your Centraide contribution is so important

Posted on Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Principal Heather Heather Munroe-Blum and Vaughan Dowie (centre), Executive Head of Public Affairs, serve a free muffin to Kip Cobbett, Chairman of McGill's Board of Governors. Munroe-Blum and Dowie were handing out muffins and coffee and information about Centraide at the James Building. / Photo: Owen Egan

By Vaughan Dowie & Chandra Madramootoo

It’s midterm season, so here’s a pop quiz: McGill University has nearly 10,000 employees – people who take home a steady pay cheque. So why does the University have such a historically low rate of employee participation when it comes to Centraide, Montreal’s most important annual campaign aimed at helping those in our surrounding community who count on our help and support?

Discuss in 500 words or less.

Indeed, there’s lots to discuss, because perhaps we are not aware of how even the smallest of contributions can make a big impact on communities in need. And a campaign like this is all about getting people to take part. Why? Do the math. If every McGill employee were to give only $2 per pay period – a twoonie! – the University would raise about half a million dollars for Centraide, instead of the $320,000 we raised last year and the $325,000 we hope to raise, with your continued help, this year.

A twoonie. It’s a bus ride. It’s a can of Coke in a vending machine. It’s what you toss into the guitar case of a good busker

in the métro. Or into the coffee jar when your pour yourself a cup at the office. When you add it up, a twoonie every pay period amounts to $48 a year, or less than the cost of a tankful of gas. Four movie tickets. A lot less than dinner out.

So it’s not especially expensive to join the coalition of the helping.

But perhaps many people feel a twoonie’s not enough, that they need to give more than that and then they begin to hesitate. That’s the point of getting more and more people to join in. It’s a simple equation: the more people participate, the less is asked of individuals when they are called upon to give.

Or perhaps Centraide isn’t sufficiently understood on campus. We should remember that even though most of us pass through gates (literally or figuratively) into our campus enclaves when we come to work each morning, we don’t stop being part of our wider community. We live in the Montreal area and we play here; we work here. We are part of a society. And societies, if they are functioning properly, look after themselves, tend to their sick, their wounded and those lacking basic services. They feed their hungry and they help their weaker members be stronger. That is the ethos that has built our University, our city, our province and our country.

And that is the vital role Centraide plays every year. More than half a million people in the Montreal area get help from one of the 300 volunteer-driven agencies Centraide supports. By joining together to conduct a centralized fundraising campaign, these organizations – from food banks helping the hungry to groups helping to keep seniors from living in isolation – can spread administrative costs more thinly, leaving more essential resources for the agencies themselves to deliver aid to those who need it most.

Centraide’s central administration is dominated by volunteers, with a ratio of about 185 volunteers for every 25 employees. Nearly 90 cents of every dollar raised (87.3 to be precise) goes to those agencies Centraide supports.

Still have questions? This weblink can help you answer them: www.mcgill.ca/centraide/faq/

After that, one question remains: can you please help us this year? We hope the answer is yes.

You will have received an email recently explaining how important it is to contribute to the McGill Centraide campaign. There’s a link on that email that makes giving easy. Please do so and please accept our thanks for your very important support.

Vaughan Dowie, McGill’s Executive Head of Public Affairs, and Chandra Madramootoo, Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, are co-chairs of this year’s McGill Centraide campaign.

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