Missouri state employees, the lowest paid of any state workers in the country, have raised over a million dollars for charity for the 13th year in a row.
The state’s Employee Charitable Campaign conducts an annual fundraiser, which has raised almost $30 million in its 32 year history.
The Missouri Office of Administration organizes the event. The department’s commissioner, Doug Nelson, notes employees from all over the state select the organizations they want to support.
“For example, the Community Health Charities of Kansas and Missouri is getting $86,604” said Nelson. “The United Way of Central Missouri got almost $135,000. The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri got $44,398. Those are some of the bigger ones.”
Nelson says each department has a series of coordinators that set up activities to raise money. “It may jeans day, it may root beer floats. It may be friendly competitions. It may be throwing a pie at the director. It may be able to get a parking spot the director parks in.” Nelson credits the coordinators for motivating employees to get involved in activities for the benefit of charities.
Workers and retirees can make contributions through payroll deductions or one-time gifts. The Employee Charitable Campaign website tells employees that “all donations, large or small, are welcomed and greatly appreciated!” and informs them that a fifty-cent donation per pay period is the minimum contribution allowed through payroll deduction.
Over 1,000 approved charitable organizations participated in the Employee Charitable Campaign this year. Between all workers participating in the event, 895 of those organizations were chosen to receive contributions.
Nelson says state workers are especially generous considering the low wages they’re payed. “To me in this environment and how hard these workers work, and how little they get paid, to me it’s very heart warming and says a lot about our state employees.”
A study this year found Missouri pays its workers the lowest wages of any state, with compensation running 10 percent below the market rate. The study was released in July.
Low state worker wages have been an issue for the state government for years with high turnovers rates leading to more taxpayer money having to be funneled into overtime and training.