by Lori Finch, NTEN Connect, August 2015
As nonprofit organizations began embracing crowdfunding as a proven fundraising model for reaching new donors, reactivating past donors, and engaging ongoing supporters, we saw our clients begin to raise millions of dollars during giving events as early as 2010. The success of the model and profound impact it could have on fundraising sparked an idea across our company: Let’s harness Kimbia’s technology and model for crowdfunding to connect communities, nonprofits, and individuals to support a national fundraising day founded on the principle of giving local.
We launched the inaugural Give Local America (GLA) event on the 100th anniversary of community foundations in the United States to celebrate the vital role they play in philanthropy and, specifically, local philanthropy. We then worked with the foundations to rally and organize the local nonprofits that were making the most impact, and offered a donation process that enabled local supporters to contribute not only to their communities, but to the causes closest to their hearts.
To date, we have raised more than $120 million to support a broad range of causes and communities across the country. The momentum going into 2016 is inspiring, and we are looking forward to working with our community partners, nonprofit organizations, corporations, and donors to once again to set a new standard for local giving.
What We Expected
We had a lot of high expectations for our inaugural GLA day in 2014, but what we didn’t expect was the overwhelming response that made it the largest single-day charitable crowdfunding event in history—or to have broken our own record to retain that title in 2015. Although we knew that large organizations could raise millions by activating their networks, it was a different challenge to ignite and coordinate hundreds of communities across the country.
From activating their local media networks and working with corporate sponsors, to building social buzz and encouraging friendly competition, it is the combined efforts of our community partners and nonprofits—with support from media outlets and local corporations—that have made GLA such a monumental success.
What we did expect was the positive effect of our proven model—a platform that would be able to handle our most outlandish aspirations, and a team that was willing to go the extra mile to reach fundraising levels never imagined ten years ago. What we expect now is to continue building on the awareness and success of our first two years and to set a new record for GLA 2016. Early indications are telling us that increased corporate sponsor interest and a more nationalized approach to awareness and visibility will build a foundation for unprecedented results next year.
What We Experienced
GLA truly reignited the spirit of local grassroots giving. Not only did organizations all over the country participate, but they also came together in rallies and public events—further uniting their communities and encouraging a day of giving that supported critical local programs. The message spread and people of all ages and incomes took part, supporting the event with gifts that ranged from $10 to $50,000.
I heard a story last year about a woman who quietly entered her local community foundation holding a $10 bill. She wasn’t looking for accolades and did not want to be recognized. When asked why she was there to donate she said that she could not give a lot, but she really wanted to participate in such a generous day and was there to offer what she could in support. This is the power of GLA, this is a day that every donation matters – bringing together the power of individuals on a day supported by a nationwide movement to give.
The amount of social media activity was also astonishing and played a significant role in the success of GLA. With nearly 50,000 mentions on Twitter alone, the power of the people that were truly engaged and excited about the possibilities of the giving day helped inspire all kinds of ideas, and plenty of delightful, healthy community-driven competition.
Why People Care
Give Local America is the only giving day that, within just 24 hours, supports thousands of local nonprofits across a broad spectrum of causes.
GLA participating community partners and nonprofits have reinforced to us many of the other reasons people are so passionate about this nationwide initiative:
- It provides funds for organizations doing important work in the community. GLA enables nonprofits and our community partners of all sizes to join forces in building local excitement and engagement. Without the resources or staff to fully promote and execute a successful giving day on their own, they can leverage the power of a nationwide effort to build awareness, generate funds, and build new relationships with both new and existing donors.
- GLA’s widespread visibility significantly drives community engagement. The large-scale nature of GLA, power of media participation, increase in social media awareness, and support of local corporations helps drive more success in one day than many organizations realize all year. In many cases, it is the one day that volunteers, supporters, foundations, organizations, media, and corporate representatives come together with a common purpose—to better their communities through the power of crowdfunding.
- It’s fun! Organizations from community to community and cause to cause come together in one day with the common goal of promoting and supporting bettering their communities. GLA encourages organizations to benefit from collaboration and sometimes a little healthy competition, which often can create ongoing dialogue and a sense of community— whether they are 5 or 500 miles apart.
For more information on GLA 2016 visit www.givelocalamerica.org.