By Claire Muller
Executive Director, Seeley Lake Community Foundation 

Giving days and philanthropy


Community-wide giving campaigns are a growing trend in the nonprofit world. ‘Giving days’ wrapped up in most of the bigger cities around Montana in early May. The Seeley Lake Community Foundation is now running our month-long community giving campaign (the Change Your Pace Challenge) for the month of June. Let’s take a deeper look into this popular form of philanthropy.

Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) is the most well-known giving day in the US. It was formed in 2012 as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday). Since then, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate and celebrate generosity. According to Wikipedia, Giving Tuesday brought in almost $2 billion to nonprofits in 2019 alone!

Here in Montana, local community foundations often sponsor various kinds of community-wide giving campaigns. For example, most of the ‘Big 7’ major cities in the state just wrapped up their ‘giving days’ (ie. ‘Great Falls Gives!’) last month. This is because one of the main purposes of a community foundation is to help encourage and make it easy to support local nonprofits.

What is the point of a community-wide campaign for giving? Giving campaigns typically strive to promote a community that is generous, engaged and committed to investing in its future. It’s about more than giving for giving’s sake but rather about building a world you want to live in. They are a way to bring energy to people’s favorite causes, harness the power of many individuals giving back all at once and amplify the word about the great work local nonprofits are doing. And, these types of campaigns are popular, both with nonprofits and donors. For example, Missoula just raised over $1 million dollars for over 160 nonprofits through ‘Missoula Gives’!

So, why is this method of giving so effective? People can donate to nonprofits every day of the year, right?

There are many factors at play here, but a combination of community-wide advertising, a sense of urgency, competition and community seems to be the key to why giving days have been, and continue to be, so successful. And, they are usually a great way to grow the strength of your gift!

There’s different ways to structure community giving campaigns, which you can see across the state. Some are structured with prizes for organizations that hit certain milestones, while others distribute matching funds equally across all participants. Many campaigns are only (or primarily) available through online platforms, lasting anywhere from 24 (or 26, or 48) to 72 hours. Some are tied to an event like a ‘fun run’ or block party. Some campaigns charge fees to participating organizations and/or encourage nonprofits to secure their own matching funds. Some have matching funds that kick in after an organization has raised at least a certain amount. Or the opposite-only a certain amount raised per nonprofit is eligible for matching funds. Whatever the structure, giving campaigns often reflect what works well for that particular local community.

In larger communities with over a hundred participating nonprofits, it’s common to have incentivizes like prizes for different levels and different categories, rather than matching dollars for every participant. Some campaigns put the onus on nonprofits to come up with their own matches and run their own fundraising efforts, while other giving campaigns handle most of the legwork.

The SLCF just launched our sixth annual campaign for community-wide giving called the Change Your Pace Challenge (CYP) for the greater Seeley Lake area for the month of June. The structure of CYP is a little more geared to the small-town atmosphere of the valleys around here. It’s a month long, at the beginning of summer, and is based mostly around direct mail. You can donate online to all participating organizations through the SLCF website, but we typically see over 80% of donations come in via check, along with a filled out CYP donor brochure form.

As we all know, the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is busy around here. Running CYP for the month of June is a way to offer this opportunity when the most people who love the greater Seeley Lake area are here! The SLCF helps raise money for the CYP Match Fund, which is distributed to all the participating groups, calculated after all the totals are in, as a percentage based on the first $5,000 donated per organization, to make sure our smallest groups benefit equally as well as our larger ones.

This year, 14 organizations are participating in the Change Your Pace Challenge from the Seeley, Swan and Blackfoot valleys. Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for organizations to participate (we’re especially aware of trying not to place a heavy burden on our all-volunteer groups!) and importantly, to make it easy for people to donate to their favorite causes. For the CYP, there’s no fee for organizations to participate (and it’s a pretty simple application), the SLCF covers all credit card fees, we create a brochure with information on all the participating groups and send out a mailing (also, look for a CYP brochure as an insert in this week’s Pathfinder!)

A few testimonials from past and participating CYP organizations: “The CYP Match Fund is incredibly important to our organization.”

“The CYP Challenge helps connect us with new friends and existing donors, multiplying their giving power and their impact for their communities.”

“We love CYP!”

The Change Your Pace Challenge has raised almost $380,000 for local groups since 2016. That’s pretty darn good for our small valleys!

In short, ‘giving days’ and community campaigns for giving are one of many great ways to support the places you love, just like shopping at local businesses and giving back through volunteer service. Consider giving to support your favorite local causes in whatever way works best for you!


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2023

Rendered 04/30/2023 03:19