Sacramento nonprofits hoping for donations on Big Day of Giving

05/02/2014 4:46 PM

05/04/2014 7:50 PM

Through email blasts, social media messages and good old-fashioned phone calls, charities in the Sacramento region are in fundraising awareness overdrive for Tuesday’s Big Day of Giving.

The groups – from established powerhouses such as the Crocker Art Museum and the Sacramento Ballet to tiny charities such as Sisters of Nia – are contacting previous supporters and seeking new ones for the 24-hour online giving challenge that aims to raise $1 million. Helping to spice things up are $300,000 in prizes and matching funds.

“We have prizes going all day long,” said Shirlee Tully, a spokeswoman for the event.

The area collaboration of community foundations is going Oprah -style with prizes. The organization that gets the first donation wins $2,500. The top fundraiser wins $5,000. The nonprofit with the most individual donors wins $3,000. Other prizes, totaling $60,000, are tied to geographic areas, types of groups and social media activities. That leaves $240,000 to be distributed to the 394 participating nonprofits based on funds raised.

“This is going to be a huge day really to celebrate the community,” Tully said.

The effort didn’t start – nor will it stop – with Tuesday’s event. It began with months of outreach and workshops for participating charities.

Elizabeth Morabito, community relations manager for Lilliput Children’s Services, said the event and nonprofit coaching will improve the region. She said her organization, which works to keep kids and families together, is somewhat new to fundraising. Through the training, she created Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn accounts for Lilliput.

“We are very excited to be part of the process,” Morabito said.

Leilani Fratis, executive director of the Placer SPCA, said her organization is excited about introducing itself to new donors.

“We frequently bump into people that don’t know about us,” Fratis said.

Last year, the event was called Arts Day of Giving, but this year’s challenge has expanded to a wider array of registered nonprofits. Tully said last year’s experiment found that 30 percent of the people contributing were new donors.

Other changes this year include an informational clearinghouse on all of the charities, which “will become a giving portal,” Tully said.

“For the first time, our region has a searchable nonprofit database,” Tully said.

Potential donors will be able to see how a favorite charity is performing during the Big Day, and can refer to easy-to-read graphs to see how charities use the money they have. That functionality is especially important for people who come to the site ready to give without a recipient in mind, organizers said.

Three official events and several others organized by charities are being held to support the charitable giving. Access Sacramento, the local cable access channels, will ask viewers to contribute throughout the day. The popular brewery LowBrau will host a Haiku and Brew event from 3 to 9 p.m. for the local literacy group 916 Ink. The Sacramento Ballet is inviting its supporters to meet at the Ruhstaller Tap Room from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

The Big Day of Giving is the culmination of a sustained effort to bring the region’s philanthropic activity up to national averages. A 2010 study found that residents of the four-county region underperform philanthropically. The average contribution per donor household in 2009 was $1,990, below the national average of $2,355, according to the study. It also found that 62 percent of Sacramento-area residents give to nonprofits, compared to the national average of 66 percent, Tully said. The Sacramento Region Community Foundation also would like to see the percentage of local contributions increase from 63 percent to 68 percent.

“Reaching those three goals ... it would mean $250 million to local nonprofits,” Tully said.

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