How DTE Energy’s CFO Group Gives Back – One group, One day and over 200 employees

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When DTE Energy unveiled the “DTE Month of Caring” – a month-long volunteer initiative to activate and engage 1,000 employees across the company to volunteer in their community – the controllers organization didn’t even bat an eyelash at how they were going to give back.

They simply turned to their CFO Community Outreach Committee (CCOC), which helps to coordinate and plan ways to give back to the community throughout the year. Whether it’s donating money for Friday jeans days, participating in annual THAW events, organizing floor fundraisers or connecting with local nonprofits around the city – these employees are making a difference in the lives of people in every way.

“I see this as an opportunity to live up to our aspiration and serve the communities where we live and work,” said Robert Ljucovic, senior business financial analyst for the controller organization, and co-chair of the CFO Volunteer Committee. “We’re really focused on taking an active role in supporting local organizations because you can see how much they appreciate the assistance we provide through our volunteer efforts.”

The CCOC began planning its August activities earlier in the year by dedicating a session at its all-hands meeting to showcase and get feedback on what the organization wanted to do. Then, they began planning.

“As a newer employee, I was impressed with how embedded these values are in our business,” said Kenneth Gavin, a business analyst within the controller’s office, and co-chair for this year’s CFO Month of Caring activities. “You can see that it starts with our leaders. They have a passion around it and because of that, they created a platform that allows us the opportunity to grow our involvement and show what it means to be DTE in the community.”

And grown, it has. This year, the CFO organization – that includes treasury, tax, audit and controllers departments – has 13 different volunteer activities planned for August 26, with nearly 250 employees signed-up and ready to get their hands dirty. From food packing at Gleaners Community Food Bank, Forgotten Harvest and Food Gatherers, to filling backpacks for The Children’s Center of Wayne County, and gardening and beautification for the Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision Project – the organization is doing a little bit of everything throughout the community.

“In two days, we had filled 63 percent of the volunteer opportunities that we had arranged,” said Ljucovic. “It’s almost easy for us because it’s a tradition. Everyone in the organization knows that we always have a day dedicated to giving back, and are ready and excited to be part of it.”

Yet arranging all those opportunities wasn’t easy. Ljucovic and Gavin said they relied on their team of site leads and committee members to connect and build relationships with the nonprofits for each event.

“A lot of the site leads who stepped up already had built relationships with key people at the agency,” Ljucovic said. “The agencies know what to expect of us at DTE. They know that when we call on them, and say we have 50 people who are willing to come out for a day to do work – they answer and know that we’re going to follow through.”

But for the CCOC, giving back doesn’t end when the annual volunteer day is over.  Through the DTE Energy Foundation, each volunteer group can submit an application for a Walter J. McCarthy Service Award grant to further support the nonprofits and causes they care about.

“The recognition component is great because it means we can give back in more ways than one,” said Ljucovic. “We decided to apply for the grant after the service events because while it’s a nice thing to come out for the day and help people – and it’s even more rewarding to supplement our work and give the agencies a nice surprise to use for things they really need.”