November 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 7 
Cover Story

Heart strings and purse strings

Heart strings and purse strings

Puget Sound ECF board members tackle the job of how to best manage contributions, meet community need


The members of the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound Board of Trustees are a diverse group. But they all have a passion for supporting the communities where they live and work.

"It's a big job, but it has really helped me grow," said Elizabeth Perrin, a Materials Management employee in Auburn, Wash., and secretary of the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound Board of Trustees. "We see the basic needs of our family and friends, but the need out there is much greater than I ever dreamed."

The Employees Community Fund is the largest employee-directed fund of its kind in the world. Founded in 1951, ECF currently operates at 67 Boeing sites in the United States and 13 locations internationally. In terms of total contributions, the Employees Community Fund of Puget Sound is the largest.

The eight members of the Puget Sound Board of Trustees, who are elected by fund participants, are in charge of managing the nearly $20 million given each year by Boeing employees and retirees in the region. The board reserved $2.5 million in 2005 for direct grants; it's allocating the remainder to local United Ways or is distributing it to organizations designated by Boeing employees.

As Boeing employees, trustees must balance their Boeing work with the work they do on the board, spending between 25 and 45 hours a month—as well as some personal time—on fund business.

Where does it go?

One hundred percent of employee donations to the Employees Community Fund go to the communities—because Boeing pays all administrative costs. Forty-one percent of the contributions received by the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound are designated to specific agencies chosen by employees. Those agencies get 100 percent of that money on a quarterly basis. The remaining 59 percent is managed by the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound. Of that 59 percent, the Employees Community Fund Board of Trustees allocates $2.5 million for direct grants. The balance goes to local United Ways in 10 counties around the greater Puget Sound region.

For more information on how to become an ECF trustee in the Puget Sound region, visit
(internal link only) on the Boeing Web. To find out more about your local Employees Community Fund activities, visit (internal link only) on the Boeing Web.

The board evaluates eight to 10 grant requests per month. While every ECF board and committee operates according to its own grant-making guidelines, the Puget Sound employees have chosen to focus on health and human service-related organizations. The Puget Sound Fund makes grants in two areas: for the purchase of capital equipment (including refrigerators and freezers for food banks or vans to transport seniors, for example) and to provide seed money for new programs. Like most ECFs, it does not fund ongoing operating costs. Most grants range from $10,000 to $40,000 in size. The ECF grants administrator (who is not a board member) screens all online grant applications and phone inquiries received from potential grantees around the region before they are sent to the board for review.

Pat Beireis, president of the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound Board of Trustees, assigns trustees to specific grant applications. He makes his determinations based on locations of the non-profits and work locations, work schedules and personal interests. Each trustee reviews the requesting agency's financial records and audit and board activity prior to the site visits.

After each visit, the trustees prepare a report for the other members with their recommendation as to how to fund the grant request. Trustees read all reports before a monthly meeting, where they vote on each agency and how much, if not all, of the grant request to fund. To help balance requests with available funds, trustees assess grants according to the urgency of the community need being addressed, as well as the impact each grant will have on that need.

The Puget Sound Fund distributes a monthly newsletter to let employees know where and how their dollars are being used (for examples, see (internal link only) on the Boeing Web).

As he recounted instances of how Employees Community Fund monies have assisted local communities and organizations, Beireis said being a part of the Employees Community Fund Board of Trustees has been a profound experience for him.

"I've seen firsthand how through employee contributions we helped the Senior Services Center in Yelm when they needed new kitchen equipment for their nutrition program," he said. "I've seen the difference we made for children at the Boys and Girls Club on Lummi Island when they desperately needed a van to transport the kids off the island to local activities. I've become a better person for the experience."

Terms for Perrin and Beireis expire next year. Their message to Puget Sound Employees Community Fund donors is a simple one: For anyone who has an itch to do something in the community, being an Employees Community Fund board member is a great place to start.

"Whatever you've got to give, there are agencies out there doing good work that need it," Perrin said.

For more information about the Employees Community Fund in your area, visit your location's site on the Boeing Web. To enroll as a member or change your contribution level, go to (internal link only)


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