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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 13, 2017

Giving Tuesday used as a tool in seasonal fundraising efforts

By Makayla Tendall, The Gazette | Nov 29, 2017

While Cedar Rapids not-for-profits hoped for donations on Giving Tuesday, officials said the day is used as another tool in seasonal fundraising efforts.

Giving Tuesday, which takes place the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is intended to be a day during which Americans donate time or money to a charitable cause.

Most local not-for-profits use Giving Tuesday to raise awareness about the cause the organization supports, said Corinne Ramler, director of communications for the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.

“There’s a lot of national publicity around Giving Tuesday,” she said. “Our role is to remind people locally and in Linn County to get out and give to some local nonprofits, remind people that charitable giving is really important.”

Ramler said the Community Foundation assists in sending out news releases about not-for-profits’ fundraising efforts, sharing graphics to be used on social media on Giving Tuesday and uses its own social media to raise awareness.

Waypoint, Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity, Four Oaks, Indian Creek Nature Center, Alzheimer’s Association and the Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation all promoted the day on their websites and social media, Ramler said.

Lia Pontarelli, director of development and communications for The Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids, said that although her organization saw an increase of about $2,000 in local donations last Giving Tuesday, the real payoff comes from engaging community members who may donate later in the season.

“It’s a hashtag people might click on to see our message,” Pontarelli said, referencing the popular #GivingTuesday that many organizations use in promoting the day. “They may not give on that day, but they may give another day.”

Each year, The Salvation Army puts on its national Red Kettle campaign, with volunteers and staff posted in high-trafficked areas so donors can drop money in the red kettle. Online donations also are collected.

Since the campaign accounts for 47 percent of the local office’s operating budget, Pontarelli said they use Giving Tuesday as a way to further the seasonal fundraiser through social media posts.

“Nonprofits really want to be engaging those in our community to give back more,” she said. “We all know that people in this community participate in Black Friday and the businesses in our community have come together to help push that Small Business Saturday. Now, the nonprofits are coming together to push that giving day.”

Mark Tauscheck, regional communications officer with the American Red Cross, agreed, saying the Red Cross posts reminders about Giving Tuesday, but they’ve been in constant fundraising mode since August, hoping to gather donations for hurricane and other disaster relief efforts.

Others, such as Waypoint Services, are encouraging donations as part of a grant. U.S. Bank agreed to match all donations made to Waypoint, up to $2,500, during the week after Thanksgiving. Camp Courageous, based in Monticello, used a Facebook page to post links of items on Amazon that are needed for regular operations.

Pontarelli said there are area businesses and a few high school student groups that volunteered to ring the bell at Red Kettle donation spots to mark this year’s Giving Tuesday.

“It doesn’t have to be money. It’s a gift of your time, of your abilities, whatever you’re able to do,” Pontarelli said. “We promote giving to nonprofits, but it’s another day to remember those in the community that need help.

“Many of us have the ability to help.”

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