SHRM Foundation Raises Money Silently for HR Research

By Beth Mirza May 19, 2008

Silent auctions raised more than $50,000 for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation in 2007. As it was held at invitation-only events at the Annual Conference in Las Vegas and Leadership Conference in Alexandria, Va., the number of people who could participate was limited.

But from June 1-25, 2008, all SHRM members and the general public can take part in an online auction, bidding on items donated by exhibitors who will be at the 2008 SHRM 60th Annual Conference & Exposition in Chicago.

Vacation packages, designer handbags and navigation systems are some of the items up for bid, said Laurie Perry, SHRM Foundation development manager.

“They are quite substantial items,” said Maureen J. Fleming, Ph.D., chair of the SHRM Foundation Board of Directors. The online auction “brings us to a new audience. That’s important.”

On-site silent auctions will again take place at the SHRM Annual Conference, held June 22-25, and Leadership Conference, scheduled for November, Perry said.

More SHRM members can also participate in the many silent auctions that SHRM state councils have begun holding at state conferences to support the Foundation. Fleming and her husband, who live in Missoula, Mont., donated a “fish and float” trip to the silent auction held at the May 2008 Montana state SHRM conference. The auction pulled in 40 percent more money than it did in 2007.

“That tells me that enthusiasm for products and tools from the Foundation is growing,” Fleming said.

In all, SHRM chapters and state councils gave 63 percent of the money donated to the SHRM Foundation’s annual fundraising campaign in 2007. Individual contributions comprised 28 percent of the total, and corporate and organizational donations made up 9 percent, Perry said. Including contributions from SHRM and the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), the Foundation raised nearly $2 million in 2007.

Individual donors constitute “the greatest area of potential,” said Lyle S. Hanna, SPHR, chair-elect of the SHRM Foundation Board. “If each member donated $5, that’s $1 million. We have the ability to build [research funds] to where we are head and shoulders above everyone.”

How the Funds Are Used

The money raised at all of the silent auctions and in the annual campaign will help the Foundation achieve its mission of becoming the premiere sponsor of human resource management research, Perry said.

“We are on a campaign called ‘10 by 10’—$10 million by 2010,” said Hanna, who added that they are very close to reaching their goal. “Then we’ll have enough money in the Foundation to generate $1 million in research each year. We will put more money into research than anyone else in the world.”

The Foundation already is stepping up its support of researchers. In 2007, the Foundation funded more than $560,000 in multi-year research grants, a 700 percent increase from 2006 funding of nearly $80,000. The Foundation is on track to fund $750,000 in research grants during 2008. (To apply for a grant, read summaries of completed research or see abstracts of current projects, click here.)

“We can partner with universities and colleges and the private sector to do the research. No one else has the mechanism to get [the research findings] back into the marketplace,” Hanna said. “We can send it out to 250,000 practitioners. We are uniquely positioned to conduct and publish research in a way that will be valuable and used.”

The SHRM Foundation not only funds research on HR practices but also produces tools for HR practitioners to use on the job and in chapter meetings.

“We are connecting research to the HR practice,” Perry said. “We choose research with actionable insights for HR practitioners.”

In 2008, the Foundation published the sixth title, Retaining Talent, in its “Effective Practice Guidelines” series, Perry said. Two reports released in 2007 were Developing Leadership Talent and Implementing Total Rewards Strategies. The Foundation hires a subject matter expert to review research findings and distill them into best practices, Perry said.

“We look at all the research, figure out what works best and publish it in an easy-to-read fashion,” Hanna added. All of the reports can be downloaded for free at

One of the most popular SHRM Foundation products is its DVD series of interviews with top business leaders on ethics, trust, case studies and more.

“We bring the DVDs everywhere,” Fleming said, saying that board members pass them out at chapter and state council meetings. The DVDs include discussion guides and are available for college and university professors who want to use them in the classroom.

“When we visit major academic meetings, people are standing in line for the DVDs,” she added.

In addition, the SHRM Foundation supports HR education. The SHRM Foundation Board voted to commit $50,000 annually to new and improved scholarship programs for national SHRM student members. In 2008, 10 undergraduate awards of $2,500 each will be awarded, as will four graduate awards of $5,000 each and 10 PHR/GPHR awards of $500. An additional $2,500 scholarship, the Lisa Burke Award, is available for undergraduate applicants and is funded by an anonymous donor. Scholarship recipients will be selected based primarily on merit, said Fleming.

“These are open to any student member, without any financial requirement,” she said. Applicants will be judged on grade point average, interest and involvement in HR. For more information on the scholarships, contact SHRM Student Programs at or (800) 283-7476. Application deadline is Oct. 15, 2008.

Regional scholarships for individuals interested in HR education or advancing their certification are supported this year by a $100,000 grant from the J.J. Keller Foundation Inc. Dissertation awards of $20,000 each are available. And the Foundation co-sponsors the $50,000 Michael R. Losey Human Resource Research Award, presented each year at the SHRM Annual Conference.

“More people are applying for grants. And we are well known in the academic field, due to the hard work of the academics in the Foundation,” Fleming said. “We are bringing new information forward.”

Beth Mirza is senior editor for HR News. She can be reached at


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