Nonprofits take advantage of ‘Give Local’

Nonprofit organizations helped themselves by raising money through the Connecticut Community Foundation’s 24-hour “Give Local” campaign.

During the fundraising marathon, which began at noon May 6 and ended May 7, 147 organizations in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills raised about $374,000.

By the time monetary prizes and matching funds are factored in, the fundraiser will have generated about $530,000, said Paula Van Ness, president and CEO of the Connecticut Community Foundation.

“I’m delighted with the results,” Van Ness said. “I think any time an area like ours can raise half a million dollars that goes to nonprofit organizations, it is a win.”

While each organization was responsible for soliciting donations, the Connecticut Community Foundation provided a backbone of support, including a website where visitors could learn about each charity and donate using a credit card. It also offered seminars that taught organizations to use social media as a fundraising tool.

The foundation offered matching funds and prizes — many paid for with its own money — to make the campaign more exciting. Also, the immediacy of the campaign, which gave people 24 hours to donate, seemed to motivate people, Van Ness said.

Gary Steck, CEO of Wellmore Behavioral Health, which has offices in Watertown, Naugatuck and Torrington, said the campaign also helped inform people of new causes. Wellmore tallied the most individual donors — 280 — many of whom had never donated before, he said.

“We raised almost $18,000 between gifts and awards, which isn’t too bad for 24 hours,” Steck said. “And that’s while introducing a couple hundred people to our mission.”

A number of other local organizations also did well. The Phoenix Stage Company in Naugatuck raised $8,476 through 79 donors. The Naugatuck-based Jane Doe No More tallied $17,015 through 51 gifts, while the Naugatuck YMCA brought in $7,330 with 31 donors. The figures do not count monetary prizes and matching funds.

The Connecticut Community Foundation’s campaign coincided with Give Local America, which involved more than 100 community foundations from across the country.

In November, the foundation held a test-run for the fundraiser, which lasted 36 hours and raised $520,000 for 125 organizations — $640,000 including prizes and matching funds.

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