Payroll Deduction Plans Embrace Environmental Causes

EMPLOYERS across the country are helping their employees work for the environment through payroll deduction plans.

Using state and regional environmental federations as distributors, employees donate a percentage of their paychecks to organizations active in preserving air, land, water, and natural habitats throughout the United States.

Payroll deductions for other causes have existed for a long time. Environmental deductions are relatively new.

Seventeen state-based environmental federations are in existence, says Jim Abernathy, executive director of Environmental Support Center in Washington, a national organization that assists environmental groups with fundraising.

"Just two years ago, there were only three state environmental federations so I think there has been lots of growth," he says. "In addition, the ones that already exist, as well as the new ones, are breaking into ever more workplaces."

Workplace giving through payroll deductions have several advantages, supporters say. Environmental groups benefit because contributions tend to be steadier over time as opposed to one-time yearly contributions.

Employees benefit because they are not bothered with filling out solicitation mailings, says David Kronberg, executive director of the Environmental Federation of New England (EFNE). Also, employees can choose among several environmental affiliates to support at one time, he says.

Boston-based EFNE is the country's only regional federation. So far, EFNE has established payroll deduction plans for 38 private and public employers. These deductions benefit 44 environmental organizations from each of the six New England states.

Employer participation has increased almost 41 percent since last September, Kronberg says. Other umbrella organizations, such as the United Way, also offer payroll deduction services.

Last year, Lotus Development Corporation of Cambridge, Mass., included EFNE among seven other umbrella federations that employees can support through payroll deductions. "I think employees were pleased to have the opportunity to support environmental organizations," says Catherine Thibault, administrator of corporate giving at Lotus.

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