Giving campaign raises thousands

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, a local philanthropic institution, held its second “Great Give Campaign” on Oct. 16 and 17.

The campaign, which lasted for 36 hours, urged residents of Greater New Haven to donate to local nonprofits, offering up to $170,000 in matching funds by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and its affiliate The Valley Community Foundation. Not including matching funds, the total amount raised by donors came to $335,407, the result of 4,052 separate donations.

The initiative — held entirely over the online donation platform giveGreater.org — gave over 200 participating local nonprofits the chance to win individual grant prizes in $20,000, $10,000, $5,000 and $1,000 denominations, as well as three grand prizes of $20,000 to be awarded to the nonprofits securing the greatest number of individual donors, new donors and most money raised.

William Ginsberg, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, said the Great Give Campaign was important in terms of raising awareness about local nonprofit organizations.

“The more people know about these things, the more likely they will be over time to give,” Ginsberg said. “It’s about creating an incentive structure to get people to go onto the site and learn about local nonprofits and what’s going on in this community.”

Topping the leaderboard for most money raised was Squash Haven, a nonprofit that seeks to provide New Haven students with academic support and training in competitive squash, which received $31,155 in donations. Julie Greenwood, the executive director of Squash Haven, said the campaign offers nonprofits a chance to connect with many new donors.

“We competed in this two years ago, and we’re really excited at the opportunity to try online giving as a form for drawing fans, supporters and new donors to Squash Haven,” she said. “It’s a fun format and this year, with 36 hours, it makes it like a sprint.”

“A grant award of $20,000 can help us either mediate shortcomings in terms of our own fundraising, or it can help us plan for potential growth in upcoming fiscal years,” she added.

Following Squash Haven in second and third place were the Neighborhood Music School and Solar Youth, which raised $14,282 and $12,157, respectively.

Since the first giveGreater.org challenge in 2010, the Community Foundation has distributed more than $800,000 in new and matching funds to local nonprofits. This is the third time the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven has hosted a challenge of this kind, though the 36-hour duration is a new concept.

“We’re still trying to figure out what works best,” Ginsberg said. “This is all about the Internet age and being at a place where the local organizations can present themselves on the Internet. This is the way the world of philanthropy is going.”

Ginsberg added that despite the benefits of online giving, people remain unaware of its potential. One of the main goals of the Great Give campaign is to encourage people to continue using online resources as a means to donate on an ongoing basis, he said. Since it was last held in 2010, the Great Give campaign has seen the number of local participating nonprofits double — a positive force Ginsberg said he hopes will help these nonprofits develop the way they present themselves to the community.

Though visitors to giveGreater.org were encouraged to view the online profile of each nonprofit, donors unable to select a nonprofit to donate to had the option of adding their gift to the pool of funds for the “Everybody Wins Prize.” In addition to the matching funds provided by the Community Foundation, the Valley Community Foundation — a similar foundation which supports Naugatuck Valley — is sponsoring a special prize, matching any donation of up to $100 by those living or working in the Naugatuck Valley until its $20,000 match pool is exhausted.

The Community Foundation, established in 1928, distributed approximately $19.5 million in grants to local nonprofits in 2011.

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