Operation Round Up
The mission of Palmetto Electric Trust is the accumulation and disbursement of funds for charitable purposes in Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper counties. This shall be accomplished by the disbursement of funds to individuals and organizations for food, shelter, clothing, health needs and education.
A little goes a long way to help our community
Palmetto Electric Trust (PET), a volunteer board, administers member donations to Operation Round Up. According to the Palmetto Electric Trust 2020 Annual Report, a total of $591,636.77 was given back to the community.
These funds are used to assist individuals in need, as well as community organizations. The trust also funds scholarships for local students and grants for Bright Ideas, a co-op program to reward teachers for innovative classroom projects, and also supports vital community services.
Since 1989, when the co-op introduced Operation Round Up, the trust has contributed more than $8.2 million in grants in Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties. Grants are made possible by voluntary member contributions.
Participants donate an average of $6 a year by agreeing to have their electric bills rounded up to the next dollar.
Since Palmetto Electric Cooperative was formed in 1940, we have been dedicated to improving the quality of life for people in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. We do this by not only providing affordable electric service to our customers, but also by our active involvement in a number of important altruistic endeavors.
One of the most successful community service efforts in which we’re involved has been the Operation Round Up program. Founded by Palmetto Electric in 1989, Operation Round Up has been an incredibly successful way in which we have been able to help the less fortunate in our community. Through Operation Round Up, Palmetto Electric automatically rounds up a participating member’s electric bills to the next highest dollar. For example, a consumer’s monthly bill of $52.73 would be automatically rounded up to $53.00, with the additional 27 cents going to the Operation Round Up fund. On an annual basis, we are able to donate roughly six dollars for each participating customer – and that pool of money is then allocated to a variety of worthy causes throughout our service area.
Currently, almost 86% of Palmetto’s 75,000 members participate in Operation Round Up. The money raised through Operation Round Up has the potential to make an overwhelming difference for the less fortunate in our community.
Operation Round Up® Plus
Do you want to contribute more to help the local community? Palmetto Electric also has Operation Round Up PLUS. With Operation Round Up PLUS, members can choose the amount they would like to donate in addition to the amount already being rounded up.
To help your community even more, contact Palmetto Electric at 1-800-922-5551
Ernie Avant, Chairman
Join us in helping the less fortunate in our community
As a voluntary program, Palmetto Electric relies on consumer participation to ensure the success of Operation Round Up. When a customer participates, his/her average contribution is about 50 cents per month, totaling around $6 on an annual basis. It may seem like small change, but if every consumer took part in the program, we could raise more than $450,000 a year to help worthy community projects in Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper counties.
Here’s How It Works
Operation Round Up is just what the name implies. Each month, Palmetto Electric simply “rounds up” the electric bills of participating consumers to the next dollar. Donations are tax-deductible, and participants are sent a summary of their yearly contributions each January and February.
All Operation Round Up donations are placed in trust and administered by an independent Board of Directors called the Palmetto Electric Trust. The Trust is made up of community leaders who serve on a voluntary basis. The Palmetto Electric Trust Board receives and evaluates all requests, determines who receives funding and how all Operation Round Up monies will be distributed. Typically, the funding is used to address crucial community needs such as housing, assistance programs like Meals on Wheels, medical care and education — but is not limited to these categories. Operation Round Up funds may not be used for political purposes.
If you need more information about the Operation Round Up program, please call Palmetto Electric at 1-800-922-5551.
Recognition near and far
Organizations throughout the Lowcountry have certainly recognized the importance of Operation Round Up to local charities and needy individuals.
The program was a major factor in Palmetto Electric receiving Jasper County’s “Sergeant Jasper Award” as well as “Business of the Year” awards from the Hampton County Chamber of Commerce and the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce.
Since Operation Round Up first began, Palmetto Electric has received a National Cooperative Council Public Service Award. In addition, Palmetto Electric is a past recipient of the Council of Rural Electric Communicators Award of Excellence for Best Total Communications Program.
“The awards we’ve received are really a testament to our members’ concern for their own community,” says former Palmetto Electric CEO and founder of the Operation Round Up program, G. Thomas Upshaw. “I also thank the Palmetto Electric Board for their support and commitment to the program and our Trust Board for their excellent guidance and stewardship. The entire Palmetto Electric family got behind Operation Round Up in 1989 and has stayed behind it ever since. It has been a true blessing to everyone involved.”
Palmetto Electric and its member-owners have proven with Operation Round Up that a pool of small donations amounts to “Small Change that Changes Lives.” If you would like to join us in our commitment to the community, please call us at 1-800-922-5551.
Begin an Operation Round Up program for your members
If you are a member of the cooperative family and would like to begin an Operation Round Up program for your members, Palmetto Electric is pleased to share information with you. You’ll find that good communication with your employees, your customers and your public are crucial in starting such a program in your own service area. To help you do so, we’ve prepared the brief “how-to” guide below for electric cooperatives to establish their own Operation Round Up fund:
Because your employees serve as informal goodwill ambassadors to the public, it is important to involve them in the early stages of your Operation Round Up plan. At Palmetto Electric, a series of internal communications alerted employees to the new program, explained its benefits and how it would work. We then solicited employee support in promoting Operation Round Up throughout the community.
The power of the press cannot be underestimated. To help publicize your new program, the media can be your best friend. Palmetto Electric utilized a comprehensive public relations campaign that included press conferences, press releases and media pitches. Pre-publicity will promote interest in your campaign before its kick-off and promote positive word of mouth.
Palmetto Electric developed an informative brochure about Operation Round Up that was inserted as a bill stuffer. This included a reply card for those who did not want to sign up for the program. Our introductory campaign also included newspaper and radio advertising.
Keeping your members informed about Operation Round Up reminds them of the good they’re doing within their own community. At Palmetto Electric, we include an explanatory Operation Round Up insert in new member packages. We also run periodic updates on the status of funds in our consumer publication, South Carolina Living, and we notify the media of status reports through press releases. In addition, Palmetto Electric employees make regular appearances at community organizations and civic groups to discuss the impact of Operation Round Up in our community.
*If you would like to join the Operation Round Up team, simply write to Palmetto Electric at 1 Cooperative Way, Hardeeville SC 29927, attn: President’s Office, for permission to use the Registered Trademark Operation Round Up.
Since we first began in 1989, the Operation Round Up program has been adopted by cooperatives from across the nation. To qualify, we require only that your board approves the program, that you complete an agreement form, and that no funds be used for political purposes. How you choose to promote the program and distribute collected funds is entirely at the discretion of your organization.
For additional information, call Palmetto Electric at 1-800-922-5551 or e-mail us at Operation Round Up.
Operation Round Up - FAQ
Co-ops adopting the program should request permission in writing from Palmetto Electric Cooperative indicating that the program will be utilized for charitable purposes. Once permission has been granted, a license will be mailed to the participating cooperative and should be completed and returned to Palmetto Electric Cooperative.
Generally, six months is sufficient in order to begin preparation and implementation of the Operation Round Up program. It is suggested that once notification has been made to co-op customers, a full 30 days be allowed in order for members to indicate their decision not to participate.
While this may vary from co-op to co-op, it is our opinion that the fall or spring months are the best time to implement Operation Round Up. Palmetto Electric Cooperative elected to implement our program during the month of November.
No. Each co-op has the right to adopt bylaws based on their individual needs and preferences. The only requirement is that no Operation Round Up funds may be used for political contributions.
The Palmetto Electric Trust Board is selected by the Palmetto Electric Board of Directors. Each Palmetto Electric Board Director selects a Palmetto Electric Trust Board member from the same geographic area that the Palmetto Electric Board Director member represents.