The Power of Multiplication: Establishing the Barge Design Solutions Community Fund

21 / August / 2017

For the last several years, employees in the Dothan, Alabama, office collected money to support Southeast Alabama Youth Services. The office would host an annual Christmas party where children would receive gifts like a personalized blanket and Wal-Mart gift card. While every employee contributed to the event, the office wanted to do even more, and began to think about how they could set aside money throughout the year to raise a larger amount for the children at Christmas.

Michael Cole, a civil engineer in the Dothan office, explains, “We started to think about how much more convenient it would be if we could create a ‘Christmas Fund’ where we could pull a few dollars out of our paychecks throughout the year to raise money for the kids of Dothan. We also felt we could raise even more money that way. The idea grew, and we thought about the impact we could make as a company if everyone had the opportunity to deduct money from their paychecks that could be pooled together for worthy causes around the firm.” Dothan Office Manager, Barry Mott, pitched the idea to CEO Bob Higgins, who, according to Cole, “jumped in with both feet.” Leaders coordinated with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to create the Barge Design Solutions Community Fund.

Grants are funded by employee contributions, either through payroll deductions or one-time donations, and matching contributions from the company. To date, $111,500 has been distributed to 41 organizations across the company’s footprint, supporting children, the elderly, health issues, and education, among other issues. “The support has really run the gamut,” said Cole. “It’s a wonderful thing to see.”

Participating employees enjoy being part of something larger than themselves. “One of the benefits of contributing to the fund is the power of multiplication. One person may only give a small amount each year, but with a greater number contributing, you can see your donations making a larger impact,” said Andrew Murr, a participant in Knoxville.

“Helping others should be a priority in our lives, both inside and outside of work,” said Aaron Powell, another participant in Dayton. “The Barge Design Solutions Community Fund is a great example of our CARES model in action.”