By Kristen Orsini-Meinhard
FORT COLLINS, CO (January 13, 2004) — When the economy takes a nose dive, that's when Hewlett-Packard Co. employee Russ Herrell said he finds it easier to donate money to charities.
For more than 20 years, the Fort Collins worker has shelled out an average of $1,000 per year to various organizations in Northern Colorado.
"It's just a commitment that I've made," said Herrell. "I've been fortunate that even the difficult times haven't been as difficult for me as the people who depend on these agencies. It's easier to donate in the hard times than in the easy times with that perspective."
In one month, Fort Collins HP employees like Herrell raised close to $400,000 for organizations across the world, with 70 percent of donations doled out to United Way and its agencies in Northern Colorado.
HP matched each employee's contribution, as part of the company's annual National Employee Charitable Giving Campaign between Nov. 5 and Dec. 5 last year.
By the end of the month, donations in Fort Collins totaled $765,600 -- a 62 percent increase from donations in 2002.
At HP's sites across Colorado, employees -- matched by the company's donations -- raised about $1.1 million, an increase of 58 percent.
The company employs about 6,000 people at four sites across Colorado, including Fort Collins and Loveland.
"It's huge," said HP spokeswoman Renee Benzel. "This is really about giving back to the communities where HP employees live and work."
This year, employees could choose from five organizations to aid, including United Way and Earth Share, said Benzel.
Instead of donating money strictly to Northern Colorado agencies, some employees also gave their funds to GlobalGiving, an agency that benefits various projects in poor countries.
Matched by HP's funds, employees in Fort Collins raised about $9,000 during the month-long campaign, donating about $175 on average, said Tim Scheu, communications manager of GlobalGiving.
Formed in 2000, GlobalGiving funnels monetary donations to projects in struggling areas across the world.
As an example, donors can choose if they want to help small-business development in Kenya or help fund business loans in Peru.
As a partner with GlobalGiving, HP has its own Web site for its employees to donate to the Maryland-based nonprofit.
The company is one of GlobalGiving's largest partners, and its holiday donation was one of the nonprofit's highest, said Scheu.
"They were great," said Scheu of employees' donations. "They had one of the highest averages per donation."
In a time when many workers are struggling through a bad economy, Scheu said he was surprised by the amount of money employees raised.
"Especially this time of year when they're asked, it's, well, ‘Do we contribute to charity, or do we get our kids extra Christmas presents?’ It's kind of hard," Scheu said.