The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 29, 2020 1:00 am

Giving Tuesday a chance to help

Nonprofits raise cash, develop relationships

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

The goal is modest, Karl LaPan says: Raise $3,000.

It's not the first time his organization has tried to rally individual donors, though perhaps unusual for ones like his, the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center – which is designed to help entrepreneurs.

LaPan, the president and CEO, isn't worried that foundation or government grants might decline, or even corporate funding.

“I think part of any good fund development plan for any nonprofit is to make sure you're building relationships with all of the sources of money,” LaPan said.

And so the nonprofit he leads is participating in Giving Tuesday this week – along with dozens of other agencies.

The annual, global event can help organizations bridge the gap between their traditional funding and wish lists. It started in 2012 with a simple idea – encouraging people “to do good,” according to the website.

Giving Tuesday falls the week after Thanksgiving – a time when many people have started holiday shopping and are in a generous mood.

With this year's global coronavirus pandemic, Giving Tuesday campaigns were also held in early May. Those GivingTuesdayNow initiatives helped some organizations meet basic community needs and stay connected virtually with the public when residents in most states – including Indiana – were under stay-at-home orders.

The Innovation Center participated in Giving Tuesday last December, setting a $2,870 goal and exceeding it with $2,930. 

LaPan said his organization developed its target goal based on a “donor pyramid” projecting how many donors might give certain amounts, such as $20 or $50.

“Most entrepreneurial support organizations like ours don't have a track record or established programs with individual donors,” LaPan said.

The Innovation Center also participated with more than 110 area organizations in GivingTuesdayNow during the early months of the pandemic. The Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne helped push those campaigns, which generated more than $725,000. Twenty-one of the organizations were fully funded, according to an announcement the foundation made in May.

The Innovation Center generated $4,385, a fraction of its $20,000 goal, which LaPan now describes as “very aspirational, ambitious, and naive.” But GivingTuesdayNow helped the organization connect with more individual donors, so “there is an incredible upside for us going forward,” he said.

Unity Performing Arts Foundation is skipping this week's Giving Tuesday campaign.

The organization that includes the Voices of Unity Youth Choir is preparing for its 20th anniversary celebration and will roll out a campaign in January, said Shadwaynn Curry, administrative/donor relations manager.

The celebration will include a two-day virtual praise celebration Jan. 26-27, followed by a gala later in the year – if the coronavirus pandemic is under control, Curry said.

Earlier this year, Unity Performing Arts raised about $3,000 of a $5,000 goal through GivingTuesdayNow.

Fort Wayne Museum of Art has an endowment through the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, so donors can give any time.

The museum is not engaged in a specific Giving Tuesday campaign, but is in the midst of its annual campaign, says Amanda Shepard, the vice president and chief operating officer.

Museum board members – there are 32 – on Tuesday are being asked to call donors who haven't yet contributed to the annual drive. That campaign typically launches in October and ends in December.

The museum did have a successful GivingTuesdayNow campaign in May, raising $10,000, Shepard said. Those dollars helped finance five videos posted on its website, YouTube, Facebook and other mediums.

“That was very successful. We raised all of our money in the first eight hours,” Shepard said.

Despite the pandemic, donors are stepping up.

“We have seen generosity increase. People are giving more,” Shepard said. “Some are doubling their gifts or tripling their gifts. We've only had a very small number of donors decrease their gifts, but most are increasing.”

And from what Shepard has heard from other nonprofits, the Museum of Art hasn't been the only one to benefit in such ways.

“It's been really neat to see that,” she said.

The museum's annual campaign goal is $125,000; as of Wednesday, it had pledges of $115,000.

United Way of Allen County is doing its own Giving Tuesday campaign with a $20,000 goal. The agency, which supports numerous nonprofits, didn't participate in GivingTuesdayNow earlier this year, said Amanda Davis, chief development officer.

United Way's Giving Tuesday campaign started with donations from the board, hitting $1,000. Board members won't be making calls Tuesday, but the agency plans a significant social media campaign that will include some Facebook Live events and testimonials.

A text-to-give platform will be available.

Davis said the goal is to distinguish the appeals from United Way's annual workplace campaign where individuals might give one-time donations or through payroll deduction.

“We don't want to take from one and give to the other,” Davis said. “We want to grow both.”

The social media push, she said, will allow United Way to connect with individuals who may not be engaged if their employer is not a workplace campaign partner with the organization. 

Community Foundation of DeKalb County launched a Giving Tuesday campaign with a push between Oct. 26 and Nov. 22 for people to contribute to various organizations' endowment funds.

The top three organizations that raise the most money will receive $5,000, $3,000, or $2,000 in unrestricted grants.

On Tuesday, the foundation will surprise the winning organizations by showing up and delivering their check. The presentations are expected to be live on Facebook, starting at 11 a.m.

Taiylor Wineland-Hollis, office manager, said the DeKalb foundation developed this year's approach to be similar to one by Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. 

She said endowments are like a savings account and people often view that as a way to contribute to something lasting. While declining to disclose specifics, she said the foundation has “raised probably four times the amount we expected.”

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