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Give More 24! day of giving gets personal

Give More 24! aims to raise $1.6 million for Southwest Washington nonprofits from midnight to midnight on Thursday.

Last year, the theme for the annual day of giving was empower in numbers, which looked at the impact of collective giving. It’s more personal this time around, says Maury Harris, senior communications officer at the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, the marketing power and host behind Give More 24!, now in its sixth year. The theme looks at people’s individual reasons for supporting a cause close to their heart.

“Giving is a personal act. Sometimes, it’s because my brother asked me to, which isn’t as compelling,” he said with a laugh.

But, it’s true. Sometimes your brother or your friend or your first cousin twice removed solicit donations. A common example of this is Facebook birthday fundraisers where users ask friends to donate to a charity of their choice. There are more than 750,000 U.S. nonprofit groups to choose from, and Facebook doesn’t charge any fees to use its payment platform.

There’s been praise and criticism for this model, with critics saying it’s more about boosting people’s egos and online identities than altruism, and it’s better to donate directly to a nonprofit. On the other hand, it’s an easy way to support worthy causes.

Donating through Give More 24! may not be quite as easy as on Facebook. On the Give More 24! website people can search for specific nonprofit groups or look through cause categories, such as animal welfare, arts and culture, education, environment, health, housing, hunger, religion, social justice and veterans. Harris noted that the 170-some charities participating in Give More 24! have been vetted and are all local.

“You can really see the difference they’re making in the community,” said Lea Whitlock, digital marketing coordinator for the Community Foundation.

The minimum donation is $5, and people can make as many different donations to as many different charities as they like, watching their dollars add up in real time as the day progresses. Events and activities throughout the day contribute to a holiday-like atmosphere.

Some people are organizing peer-to-peer fundraisers where individuals ask their friends, relatives and co-workers to support a charity; it’s similar to the Facebook birthday fundraisers.

“When they sign up for a fundraiser, they’re able to share their personal story, in terms of how that nonprofit might have changed their life,” Whitlock said.

Keith Wells is one of several people supporting Lifeline Connections, a local substance use and mental health treatment provider.

Three years ago, he went through Lifeline’s treatment program and now manages the recovery resource center, as well as facilitates recovery meetings.

“I think it’s a great organization. I believe in their mission very strongly,” said Wells, whose goal is to raise $500.

Lifeline’s overall goal for the day is $5,000. Wells believes the more people who can get the word out through their individual networks, the more people who will understand the value of Lifeline’s work, the opioid crisis and the stigma around addiction. The nonprofit is hosting an ice cream party in its courtyard Thursday afternoon to provide people with a sugar rush while they donate.

Over the years, businesses have gotten more involved in Give More 24! by hosting events or sponsoring prizes that nonprofit groups can win throughout the day. This year they can put their money where their mouth is. Businesses can register with Give More 24! so that when employees donate money they can say they’re with a specific business.

“The peer-to-peer fundraisers are really for individuals who want to champion their specific nonprofit, whereas a business fundraiser is for an organization that wants to engage their employees around the giving day,” Harris said.

The PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center Foundation is pitting the Vancouver hospital’s family birth center against its neonatal intensive care unit to see which can raise the most money to continue funding a music therapist for NICU patients.

“We’re being really specific with our ask for Give More 24,” said Jennifer Wilkerson, major gifts officer. The music therapy fund “is the only way we can pay for that therapist.”

Both sets of employees are on board and excited about the friendly competition to support the fund, she said; the winner will get a pizza party.

“We’ve never really done this competition fundraising before,” Wilkerson said. But, the technology built into Give More 24!’s website provides a chance to try it out.

They’ve set up team pages and will be able to track each side’s progress. Wilkerson said the aim is to raise at least $5,000 Thursday for the music therapy fund.

Since its inception in 2014, Give More 24! has raised a cumulative $4.4 million for charities in Southwest Washington. Last year, Give More 24! reached its goal of $1.3 million by 9 p.m.

The money has a concrete impact — literally in the case of Evergreen Habitat for Humanity. In 2017, the nonprofit raised $20,765, which provided excavation, forms and concrete to create two foundations for Habitat homes. The $10,300 in donations the Northwest Association for Blind Athletes received that year supported winter sports programming including skiing, snowboarding and indoor swimming clinics for people with visual impairments. To the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, Give More 24! meant the organization could reach more students with outdoor science and time spent learning in nature.

The Columbian is a media sponsor of Give More 24!



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