Operation Round Up - HWE Community Trust Fund
Powering Community Change through Operation Round Up
Across the nation, electric cooperatives have created non-profits to grant Members' spare change back to the community. These non-profits are branded nationally as Operation Round Up. As a participating co-op, Hancock-Wood automatically adjusts Members' bills to the nearest dollar then combines each amount for grants to local organizations and individuals in need.
For example, a monthly bill of $52.73 is rounded up to $53.00. The additional $.27 will be contributed to Hancock-Wood's Operation Round Up fund managed by the HWE Community Trust Fund Board of Trustees. On average, a Member would contribute $6 annually to the fund. These pennies, nickels and dimes have helped raise more than $400,000 to benefit area charities since its inception in 2008.
A five-Member board, separate from the Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative board, reviews all grant applications quarterly and approves applications for assistance — based on demonstrated need and funds available. Anyone is welcome to apply for a grant from the HWE Community Trust Fund, including individual Members who find themselves in need of assistance.
How to apply:
The Hancock-Wood Community Trust Fund board meets four times a year to review applications. Please supply all information by the deadline or mark the application for emergency consideration.
Submission deadlines are the third Monday of January, April, July and October each year. An email to the applicant will be sent to confirm your submission.
The board will review applications and contact references prior to making a decision during their quarterly meetings on the third Monday of February, May, August and November. After a decision has been made, the applicant will receive an email with the board's decision. Those awarded grants will be invited to a small check presentation ceremony the week after the board's meeting.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have a choice in participating?
Yes, all Members are automatically enrolled into the program, but if you wish to opt out at any time, simply Contact Us.
How do I know how much of my bill is going to the Operation Round Up fund?
Your monthly electric bill includes a separate Operation Round Up line item.
Does the bill round up even if the cents amount is less than $.50?
Yes, a $49.01 bill and a $49.99 both round up to $50.
What happens to the Operation Round Up funds?
Every cent is deposited into a separate Trust Fund used only to help those in need.
Can I deduct my Operation Round Up contributions from my taxes?
Yes, these contributions are tax deductible, charitable donations. On your December bill each year, we include a small statement indicating how much you contributed during the previous year.
How much of my donation goes toward administrative costs?
Every single penny donated by Members goes directly to charitable causes. Small administrative costs to run the HWE Community Trust Fund is absorbed by Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative, not from the contribution fund.
I don't want someone else deciding where my charitable contributions should go. Why can't I choose the charities?
You can, by serving on the board (see next question for how to apply). All Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative Members are elligible to apply to be a board member of the HWE Community Trust Fund. Without selecting representatives from HWEC to act as board members, the process to choose individual charities would prove problematic in administering the funds, especially in emergency situations.
I am interested in serving on the board. How do I apply?
You can download an application here. As each three-year term expires, applications will be reviewed for each district.
Who can apply for the funds?
Groups or individuals/families in our service territory are welcome to apply. Groups based outside of our service territory are also welcome to apply if their works affect those in our service territory. Applications can be downloaded at the links near the top of this page.
I am with an organization, and the related application requires a letter from the IRS identifying us as a 501(c)3 organization. We don't have one of those; how do I get one?
Becoming a 501(c)3 charitable organization can be done through a process with the IRS, detailed here. If you are a legally established non-profit, governmental agency, school or fire department, a 501(c)3 is not required.
What are possible uses of the funds?
Some examples could be funding for community service, education and youth, community economic assistance, environment, emergency energy assistance and disaster relief. Donations are not limited to these categories, however, political issues or campaigns are not eligible for grants.
How much money has been raised and granted by the HWE Community Trust Fund?
Since its inception in 2008, more than $511,000 has been granted to support community prosperity and superior quality of life.
Why did Hancock-Wood decide to create the HWE Community Trust Fund?
Our community involvement is hallmark of a caring, local utility that is concerned about the well-being of our members.
We believe in and support the people who live on our lines. And in being a cooperative, we are guided by our seven guiding principles; #7 is "concern for community" — while focusing on Member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members. We believe the Operation Round Up fund and the HWE Community Trust Fund, Inc. is a perfect way to help us fulfill that 7th principle.
We are investing in humanity and supporting a cause much bigger than ourselves. Overall, it fits perfectly with the principles of our cooperative — to pool a small amount of our individual resources to make a big difference for the community as a whole. If you read more about our history, that's exactly how the cooperative was formed back in the 1930's.
Does my money go to people who don't pay their bills?
While the program can help those who are in financial hardship, it is not designed to benefit delinquent bill payers. At its basic level, the program is there to help those in need, not necessarily those who don't pay electric bills. The application requires applicants to prove their need through required information, including: employment, other aid being received, assets, liabilities, expenses, income and references, and others. If you or someone you know is having difficulty paying a bill, we recommend first consulting the agencies listed on our website.
Why did you auto-enroll everyone into this program and require us to opt-out, rather than asking people to sign up voluntarily?
We debated the notion of enrolling all Members into the program (and asking them to opt out if they wish) vs. voluntary enrollment. Research showed that we would have much better involvement if we chose the former — this is not because people will not notice it on their bills, it's because most people simply won't take the initiative to contact us and sign up.
It is voluntary in the sense that a Member can choose to be excluded from participation at any time. Philosophically, however, it is simply part of being a Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative Member-owner.
Are all types of Members part of the program, even commercial and industrial?
I'm on the budget billing program where my bill is already rounded to an even dollar amount every month. Will I be donating a full dollar to the Operation Round Up fund every month?
No. Budget billing program participants will participate in the same manner as everyone else, as the "actual" billed amount — not the averaged "budget" amount — will be the figure used to determine only the Operation Round Up donation.
I'd like to contribute even more to this program, beyond my rounded bill each month? Can I make a lump donation?
Yes! You can mail your check to our office, and it will be deposited directly into the Operation Round Up Fund. Make checks payable and mail to:
HWE Community Trust Fund, Inc.
1399 Business Park Drive South
P.O. Box 190
North Baltimore, OH 45872-0190