The holiday season may be over, but Harvard Community Gifts (HGC) Program Manager Mary Ann O’Brien hopes Harvard employees are inspired to start the New Year in the spirit of giving.

“Tuesday will be the final day for employees to make a donation through the HGC campaign,” O’Brien said. “For more than 50 years, the Harvard community has given generously to people in need through the charities and nonprofits whose work ‘speaks’ to them. We’re hoping that people will make a gift, if they haven’t done so already, as this year’s campaign comes to a close.”

Donations from Harvard’s faculty and staff typically provide about $500,000 in annual support to more than 500 charities, places of worship, and college alma maters. The tradition of generosity began during World War II, when donations helped provide food and clothing for American soldiers. In the recent past, Harvard employees have donated to Harvard-sponsored relief efforts for people affected by natural disasters such as the Pacific tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.

O’Brien, who has worked with HCG since 2010, says that the annual effort plays an important role in providing the kind of workplace Harvard’s employees expect and value.

“Harvard employees are very generous and care a great deal about the organizations and causes they support — whether they are humanitarian, social, educational, or health-related,” O’Brien said. “People tell me that it’s meaningful for them to be able to do so through Harvard and that they appreciate the convenience of being able to make gifts to multiple charities with just a few clicks. Thanks to a wonderful new group of campaign volunteers and campaign co-chairs from across the University, this holiday season donations to HCG increased dramatically to about $600,000. We’re hoping to round that number up to $625,000 by the end of the business day on Tuesday.”

Employees may select up to five charities for their donation, and make a gift by check or debit/credit card, a payment option that many appreciate. “People like the fact that if they charge their gift, they keep the credit card ‘points,’ ” O’Brien said. “Also, with this option, Harvard will pay the credit card fees, rather than their charity — which can be as much as 3percent.”

The spirit of giving and community that is expressed through the HCG is an annual inspiration for O’Brien.

“It’s an important workplace tradition, and a way to amplify our charitable impact as individuals by joining with our co-workers,” she said. “Our donations provide vital support to these charities and make a real difference in what they’re able to accomplish each year.”

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