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Kelly Jo Stephens
(Photo by Mark McClendon)

SECC area champion offers tips for success

By Lynn Gosnell
Special Projects Writer

(Sept. 26, 2006)--Last year, Kelly Jo Stephens, UTSA administrative services officer, led the biology department to 100-percent participation in the State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC).

How did she do this? By employing a personal touch, engaging her department in the cause and concocting some very appealing goody bags. In other words, she got it down to a science.

In the campus SECC organization, those who serve as Area Champions, as Stephens did, are the key contacts for organizing the workplace giving program in their respective areas or departments.

At a university as large as UTSA, more than 150 Area Champions are needed to organize and distribute information about local, national and international charities and causes that can benefit from this campaign.

To date, several departments or areas are still without these key contacts. The campaign runs Oct. 3-Nov. 10. To sign up in your area, contact Albert Carrisalez, SECC chairman, at (210) 458-5138.

Those who donate their time to this worthwhile effort will receive training and support from faculty and staff experienced in these campaigns. The first Area Champion orientations were Friday, Sept. 22 at the 1604 Campus. An additional session is at 8 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 28 in the Durango Building Southwest Room (1.124) at the Downtown Campus.

Here's how Stephens made her department one of the 100 percenters.

  • TIP #1: Consider the personal touch.

"Every employee in the department will at one time or another during the course of a month be in the office for one thing or another. I decided to keep their packets in my office and speak with them one-on-one," she said.

  • TIP #2: Remind people that many UTSA faculty, staff and students benefit from these charities.

"I think that many were struck by my telling them that we have UT employees who utilize the very charities helped by the campaign."

  • TIP #3: Don't waste people's time. Be a knowledgeable resource and offer assistance when needed.

"I still say that the easier and less time consuming you can make it for someone to donate, the more likely they will be to donate," Stephens said.

  • TIP #4: You're never too old for a goody bag.

Stephens created thank-you bags that contained candy bars, snack cakes, sticky pads, sharpie markers, highlighters, UTSA pencils and pens. Each bag contained a thank-you note. "They were quite a hit," Stephens said. "This year I have yet another surprise reward planned."

  • TIP #5: Send email, but not too much e-mail.

"These updates could become very tiring very quickly," Stephens noted.

  • TIP #6: Be creative.

Stephens asked staff and faculty to supply a new synonym for the word wallet in her updates. "I had tons of responses. I would then send out an email update with a new synonym for wallet every day."

Stephens is serving once again as an Area Champion. "I guess you could say that what I found most effective was to approach the campaign as something we are all in together."

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