Community Foundation of New Jersey

PSEG’s Employee Crisis Fund Allows Them to Help Colleagues in Need

February 6, 2013

PSEG is a company known for its commitment to service — ensuring that power flows to NJ homes and businesses every day by taking care of its plants, pipes and wires; helping people in need by responding to natural disasters; and investing in nonprofit organizations that strengthen communities and contribute to education, the environment and community and economic development. But few realize how much the company’s commitment to service is ingrained in the people it employs.

PSEG’s 10,000 employees contribute their time and talent to a host of organizations that improve the communities in which they live and work. Last year they logged over 24,000 hours in volunteer service — but they took the time to take care of each other too.

In 2009, with help from the Community Foundation of New Jersey (CFNJ), PSEG established an Employee Crisis Fund. The Fund provides support for employees and their families in the immediate aftermath of a disaster or catastrophic event. Recent examples of the Fund’s versatility include subsidizing the costs of cleaning up a home devastated by fire, repairing another that was hit by flooding, and reducing the burden of expenses incurred after an employee’s loved one was struck with leukemia.

While the Fund cannot cover all expenses for a given tragedy, it provides a direct and quick boost of relief when finances seem an insurmountable burden. The Fund has made such a difference in some recipients’ lives that they have decided to pay it forward by contributing to it and volunteering for fundraisers.

What makes the PSEG Employee Crisis Fund unique is that it did not come about following a directive from the company’s leadership. Instead, the effort was formalized in response to requests from employees who had taken it upon themselves to informally organize emergency responses.

PSEG realized that the commitment of its employees to one another could be supported with a formal structure, so it began to research the best way to administer such a fund. After outlining its goals, PSEG staff sought out CFNJ.

“Over the years we’ve seen employees band together to help co-workers affected by personal crises,” said Marion O’Neil, PSEG’s Manager for Corporate Contributions. “With the Crisis Fund we now have a formal way to help each other get through these rough spots.”

Today CFNJ administers the program from start to finish by evaluating employee requests and awarding checks, which range between $500 and $2,500, with an average grant of $1,000. By having CFNJ administer the Fund, employees’ total privacy is protected and the flow of incoming requests and outgoing checks is managed by a team of philanthropic professionals.

“PSEG is a generous and thoughtful philanthropic leader for our state and the Crisis Fund is a wonderful example of this,” said Hans Dekker, President of CFNJ. “PSEG’s creation and support of the fund provides their employees with a helping hand when they need it most.”

While the PSEG Foundation has contributed seed money, grassroots support is strong and active. Employees have donated almost $25,000 — much of it from homegrown fundraising events such as an employee art auction and a softball tournament that PSEG Chairman Ralph Izzo played in. This employee support is critical, given the need to build the Fund’s long-term viability and ensure its federal tax status.

“The Employee Crisis Fund is a direct reflection of the commitment and caring of PSEG employees,” said Vaughn McKoy, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability and President of the PSEG Foundation. “This was a bottom-up idea that has really caught on among employees and brought a sense of unity and purpose to our volunteerism.”

Every dollar raised by employees goes to help employees. All donations are tax deductible.

To learn more about or contribute to the PSEG Employee Crisis Fund, visit the PSEG Employee Crisis Fund section of the PSEG website.