Georgia Gives Day is Nov. 13: Nonprofits across the state are asking Georgians to "click if you care"
ATLANTA — Nov. 4, 2013 — Nearly 1,700 Georgia nonprofit organizations are putting the final touches on plans for what could be the biggest day of charitable giving in Georgia history.
They'll be taking part in Georgia Gives Day on Wednesday, Nov. 13, when all Georgians are asked to visit www.GAgivesday.org and donate to the nonprofits that mean the most to them. Governor Nathan Deal has offered his support with an official proclamation naming Nov. 13 Georgia Gives Day, and recently spoke with Atlanta's WSB-TV about the importance of nonprofits to citizens across the state.
"Nonprofits touch our lives and make our communities stronger," Gov. Deal said. "Georgia is a state filled with generous people, and I'm asking all citizens to play a part in what we hope will be the biggest day of generosity in the history of our state."
The inaugural Georgia Gives Day raised more than $900,000 from more than 7,700 individual donors. This year, organizers at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits (GCN) hope to draw more than 10,000 individual donations on Nov. 13 in a "flash mob day of giving." For GCN President and CEO Karen Beavor, the day is all about bringing attention to the work and worth of nonprofits that touch so many lives every day, including art museums and community theatres, sports leagues and after-school programs, parks, animal shelters, hospitals and hospices.
"Whether you realize it or not, you really live the arc of your life in nonprofits," Beavor said. "Georgia Gives Day is an opportunity to think about the importance of nonprofits throughout our lives and consider giving back."
In the wake of government cuts and mounting competition for grants, nonprofits are relying more than ever on individual donors to fund the services they provide. According to Giving USA, an annual report on nonprofit charitable giving from the Giving USAFoundation, individual donors accounted for 72 percent of all funds raised in 2012.
The mode of those individual donations is moving rapidly from mail-in and phone pledges to online contributions. In 2012,Georgia saw more than $17.6 million donated electronically, according to data from The Chronicle of Philanthropy. For nonprofits looking to tap into the online giving trend, Georgia Gives Day has become a game-changer by providing the online infrastructure and support to make it possible—at no cost to the participating nonprofits.
Below, three nonprofits share their stories about the positive impact of Georgia Gives Day campaigns and their plans for this year's event.
Sharing the stories of rescued animals, Furkids raised more than $10,000 on GAgivesday.org
When Samantha Shelton couldn't find a shelter to take in a mother cat and her kittens in 2002, she founded the nonprofit Furkids. Now serving as executive director, Shelton oversees the adoption of thousands of animals through adoption centers across metro Atlanta.
Shelton describes the opportunity to be a part of the first Georgia Gives Day in 2012 as a "no brainer," joining the movement to bring Furkids' story to new audiences by tapping the initiative's momentum. Throughout their 2012 campaign, they used a single before-and-after image of a kitten rescued from a cramped animal shelter cage and adopted into a healthy and warm home. Their message was simple: donations on Georgia Gives Day would provide this happy outcome for many more suffering animals.
Blasting their story over GAgivesday.org, email and social media, Furkids exceeded their goal of $10,000 in donations by the end of the 2012 campaign.
Shelton noted that Georgia Gives Day is especially important at the end of the year, when shelters have a hard time keeping animals alive: "Some kill shelters close for the holidays and have to put animals down." With the extra funds netted through Georgia Gives Day, Furkids was able to "give these hard working shelter workers, with very difficult jobs, a reprieve. 'You don't have to put any of these animals down today, because we're going to pull them all out.'"
Augusta Heritage Academy raised more than $15,000 for scholarship funds from their community on GAgivesday.org
An inner-city Christian school with the mission of educating children from low-income families, Augusta Heritage Academy was founded 12 years ago. Providing scholarships to families based on income, Heritage Academy has grown to 190 students, 30 staff and 30,000 square feet. To accomplish their mission, the school must raise 80% of their budget from community donations.
Located in downtown Augusta, their school building was originally bequeathed to the Augusta City Council in 1851. The Houghton School was built in 1917 and has undergone renovation in phases as funds were raised through traditional campaigns. This year, they will incorporate Georgia Gives Day as a strategic part of their campaign to finish the renovation of the school.
In 2012, Heritage used Georgia Gives Day to adapt its fundraising strategy to the changing donor landscape, powering their migration online and paving the way for further social media outreach. Development Director Darlene Walters said that the flexibility of the site made personalizing their campaign a breeze, easing the transition online while meeting their specific fundraising needs.
"Georgia Gives Day gave us lots of practical ideas," Walters said. "We look for every opportunity to expand our family of donors. Helping a person discover a new way to reach across the street and lend a hand to a neighbor is a great idea. Georgia Gives Day does just that."
Heritage promoted Georgia Gives Day in their newsletter, email blasts and on Facebook. At the same time, they recruitedAugusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver to record a PSA advocating for Georgia Gives Day and their school. Their efforts were well rewarded by more than $15,000 in donations.
Gwinnett United in Drug Education finds a new generation of "friend-raisers" to support youth leadership camps
Founded in 1986 by the local board of commissioners and school system, Gwinnett United in Drug Education (GUIDE) provides Gwinnett Co. residents with information and strategies to promote positive youth development and address substance abuse issues among teens.
GUIDE joined Georgia Gives Day in 2012 to fund their Georgia Teen Institute (GTI), a youth leadership development camp held every summer to provide teens statewide with skills and resources to help fight alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse in their communities.
The camp relies on 25-30 teenaged volunteer counselors each summer, all of whom receive housing, feeding and training from GUIDE.
"We ask each GTI staff member to help us raise funds in whatever way they want, whether it's $5 or $500," said Shannon Veronesi, director of youth leadership and engagement. "A lot of the time, fundraising is a new concept for our staff members because the majority of them are high schoolers."
GAgivesday.org gives these rookie fundraisers a new tool that allows them to ask for money in a way they're already familiar with—online. The site's "personal fundraiser" feature allows anyone associated with a nonprofit to create his or her own fundraising page with a personal story explaining why the organization is important to them. These "peer-to-peer" fundraising pages allow volunteers to set and measure goals, are built for easy sharing on social media, and feature a simple click-to-donate mechanism that provides immediate funding to the organization.
This new generation of fundraisers brought in more than $4,000 through Gagivesday.org, helping bring GUIDE's total Georgia Gives Day haul to nearly $15,000.
To participate in Georgia Gives Day, visit www.GAgivesday.org on Nov. 13 and give to a nonprofit or cause that matters to you. Search by nonprofit focus area, keyword, location or zip code. Follow the site and social media pages for daily updates on leaders and prize winners.