“I wasn’t really nervous until he hooked up the wires,” said the raffle winner about his prize – the supervised detonation of a blast on a Victoria construction site.
The raffle was one of the more unusual events coordinated by BC Public Service employees, part of an annual fundraising campaign that dates back to 1965.
The campaign – the Provincial Employee Community Services Fund (also known as the Community Fund or colloquially as “PEC-sef”) – effectively harnesses the generosity of individual employees, who together support more than 900 charities in B.C. and nationally.
Over the past 49 years, PECSF has raised over $40 million for charity, with more than 90 percent of that coming from direct employee donations. Through PECSF, employees can pledge funds through an annual or bi-weekly payroll deduction to either a specific registered charity or to a general fund, which disperses the money equally to a pool of charities selected by regional PECSF committees.
The remaining funds are raised through special fundraising and gaming events, organized by about 1,000 employee volunteers. Typical events include everything from silent auctions and cook-offs to dunk tanks, bake sales, spelling bees, raffles, and more.
In Victoria, a new and particularly poignant annual event is the Barry Wilton Memorial Run/Walk for Cancer Research, which raises money for colorectal cancer screening and research. The event honours a well-respected assistant deputy minister who passed away from colorectal cancer in 2010, shortly after retiring from 35 years in the public service.
Another is an annual farmer’s market, featuring the vegetables grown in a garden tended by employees year-round. (Word has it the volunteers refer to their plants as “little PECSF fundraisers”.)
In addition to supporting charities and thereby communities around the province, PECSF also benefits the BC Public Service.
“Of course the main goal is to support charities around B.C.,” said Sandra Carroll, Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and honorary chair of PECSF. “But there is also an opportunity for employees to stretch beyond their day-to-day roles and learn new skills such as managing events or communicating with people they don’t normally see or interact with in their daily work life. The fact is, employee involvement in PECSF has multiple benefits for the B.C. Public Service too.”
Whether they volunteer, donate or participate, our employees drive PECSF’s remarkable success – and exemplify the collective power of individual philanthropy.
Next year, the Community Fund will celebrate 50 years of caring for B.C.’s communities. While the program has evolved over the years, the spirit of generosity remains the same.