It started as a simple idea in 1988, at one co-op in South Carolina. Just ask co-op members to round up their electric bill to the next dollar, and then use that extra change to do good work in your community. Today, hundreds of electric co-ops throughout the country, including Southern Indiana Power, use this idea to help members and organizations close to home.
All co-ops adhere to the seven cooperative principles, including “concern for community.” The Operation Round Up® program is a perfect example of this core principle. The average co-op member donates $6 with a maximum possible contribution of $11.88 per year. This may not seem like a large amount, but when combined with 5,567 SIP members currently participating in Operation Round Up, it adds up to make a significant impact.
Each co-op decides how it wants to operate the program, and the vast majority are governed by a board of volunteers that is different from the board of directors for the electric co-op. These individuals are called “trustees,” and this ensures that the decisions are made in the best interest of the community. Members of Southern Indiana Power’s Operation Round Up board of trustees are Gary Waninger, Paul Malone, Michelle Lynch, Ed Denning, Amy Ramsey, Houston Smith and Roger Hurm. I would like to thank them for their dedicated service.
The program is always voluntary, and at any time, members can change their minds about participating. Once folks see the good work the program does in their community, they almost always keep contributing. If you have opted out in the past, but would like to rejoin the effort, go to www.sinpwr.com, click on “Community,” then “Operation Round Up.” You can find the opt-in forms there. If you represent an organization that would benefit from a grant, you can also download a grant application from the same web page.
Since 2005, Southern Indiana Power has given $315,342.39 back to local organizations through the Operation Round Up program. Nationally, millions of dollars have been collected over the years and distributed for a wide range of activities. These activities have included assisting local food pantries, providing funds so that local fire departments can get a needed piece of equipment and contributing to many other humanitarian efforts that bring electric co-ops even closer to the communities we serve.
While each co-op must respond to the needs of its members, one of the great attributes of co-ops across the country — and the world — is their willingness to share information about the programs that have been successful. Operation Round Up is a perfect example of that cooperative spirit.
Southern Indiana Power is pleased to offer Operation Round Up. We will continue to “borrow” ideas from other co-ops and welcome your participation.
STEVE SEIBERT is president/CEO of Southern Indiana Power.