Focus on Sustainability: Environmental Fund for Arizona

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The “Environmental Fund for Arizona” is a group that helps employers help the environment through workplace giving. “EFAZ” Executive Director Lane Seaton explains.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The environmental fund for Arizona is a group that helps employers help the environment through workplace giving. EFAZ also gives educational tours, connects organizations with sustainability resources and coordinates volunteer opportunities. As part of "Arizona Horizon"' continuing covering of sustainability issues we learn more from Lane Seaton, executive director of the environmental fund for Arizona. Good to have you here.
Lane Seaton: thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: Is that a good enough definition? What does EFAZ really do?
Lane Seaton: First of all we're a statewide alliance of all environmental and conservation organizations. We have 28 across the state, from Flagstaff to Tucson. We formed about 11 years ago to really provide a Green choice to workplace giving across Arizona. We sort of work similarly to the United Way that provides opportunities for employees to give to charitable organizations usually during the fall. But at that time Arizona didn't have different kind of choices. Or environmental choices. That was really the reason why EFAZ formed. We collectively raise awareness, engagement and additional financial support for all these amazing environmental groups.
Ted Simons: In terms of raising awareness for these ecological causes, what kind of causes we talking about here?
Lane Seaton: Our member groups do a lot of different things. We have a lot of wildlife groups. We have four audubon groups. Southwest wildlife, wild at heart, those are really popular groups. Those are our wildlife groups. We have a lot of land trust, land focus groups. Desert hot house land trust, then we have native plants you'll be speaking about later today. The desert botanical garden, arboretum at Flagstaff. Then we have some different kind of groups, Sonoran institute, western resources advocates that focuses on policy, energy, transportation. We have Arizona recycling coalition that's part of city of Phoenix.
Ted Simons: when someone hears about this and say these are causes that I like to support, your group makes it easy through workplace giving to fund those groups.
Lane Seaton: Absolutely. Again, we come into the workplace, it's either public or private. If you go on our website you'll see we currently partner with many cities across the state, counties, also companies and businesses. And so employees can give through the workplace their workplace giving programs through us they can choose one or more of our specific groups if they really love those causes or they can choose if they can't decide they can choose to get to EFAZ, and that one gift is spread equally among our 28 member groups.
Ted Simons: you mentioned cities being involved, Tempe, Peoria, Surprise the latest editions.
Lane Seaton: It's very, very exciting, yes. City of Tempe and Surprise and Peoria we're partnering with them this year. It's been fabulous. Now with city of Phoenix, it's our third year with them. This fall we have done amazing activities with them. It's really, really been terrific.
Ted Simons: We have photographs -- you guys volunteer opportunities and wildlife rehab and you also give tours as we see some of the city of Phoenix workers. What are we seeing there?
Lane Seaton: Yes. That's a huge part of it. It's not just about giving. We really want to build partnerships with workplaces and give them a chance to first learn about our groups. Learn about this incredible work being done, and get to know them through these tourism volunteer opportunities. City of Phoenix, their community service fund drive committee members, they came out to Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. We did a fabulous tour with them. Actually, their response was so great that city of Phoenix had to schedule back to back tours. It was still so great that we had to do a third tour at Wild at Heart or two tours up there I think the following weekend. So when given the options, some great things can happen. That was really fun.
Ted Simons: and this is fantastic. The bald eagle. You sends people out there, they see where their money is going or where it could go. Makes a big difference.
Lane Seaton: it does. When you're actually there and seeing where your dollar is going, it really makes all the difference. Again, not just for giving but for learning and for volunteer opportunities as well. So that's really what we're about. The giving piece is just one part of it. We really are a statewide hub, resource for Green, for education, for getting involved, volunteering again.
Ted Simons: Jobs even?
Lane Seaton: Jobs even on our site. Under the get involved tab there's a jobs page with some great sustainability resources Green job sites. Other kind of resources locally and nationally.
Ted Simons: and over the years now how much do you think you've raised so far?
Lane Seaton: We're over 1 million right now.
Ted Simons: Very good.
Lane Seaton: That's pretty good. On average every year it's about 125,000 that we raise for all of our member organizations.
Ted Simons: is that number growing despite tough economic times? What's the graph looking like?
Lane Seaton: That's a good question. The last couple of years, last three, four years it's been up and down. '08 was our best year. That was about 150,000. After that with the economy it went down a bit, but it's growing. Then again with new partners, with Tempe and surprise and Peoria, great engagement with city of Phoenix, we're looking at this year having some greater support.
Ted Simons: congratulations on your success. Continued good fortune. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Lane Seaton: Thank you so much.

Lane Seaton:Executive Director, Environmental Fund for Arizona;

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