In keeping with the spirit of my last post, about corporate social responsibility, I thought I’d give a nod to Northwestern University’s new employee-to-employee assistance fund, called NU Cares, which is intended to help out Northwestern staff and faculty who find themselves in a financial bind due to an unexpected illness or emergency.
Launched in December, the fund had received more than 85 donations in the past month, according to Lori Anne Henderson, the Evanston, Ill.-based university’s director of work/life resources. She told a reporter from The Daily Northwestern, the university’s student newspaper, that a committee made up of faculty and staff members will review applications and award grants based on need. The money does not have to be repaid.
Northwestern is hardly alone. A number of other companies have employee-assistance funds, including Alaska Airlines, which launched its fund back in 1992. The airline encourages its employees to donate $1 per paycheck to the fund; last year, 30 percent donated and the fund raised a total of $286,000, according to the company. Donations to the fund, which is registered as a 501(c)(3) charity, are tax deductible. Other organizations with similar funds in place include US Bank, Regency Healthcare, Wellesley College and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
For companies that don’t have such funds in place: Yes, there are many worthy charities that benefit society, but it’d also be nice to give folks the opportunity to help out, anonymously, a co-worker a few cubicles down whom they know is really struggling. Wouldn’t that be a boost to employee morale and engagement?