Creative efforts enables nonprofits to communicate emerging needs and capture their supporters’ interest.

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The success of GIVEBIG — taking place on Wednesday, May 9 — is in how it creates a magical day of generosity that enables nonprofits to communicate emerging needs and capture their supporters’ interest with creative campaigns.

A great example of this is Amara, a 97-year-old organization that works with children as they enter, experience, and transition out of foster care. Amara has three main programs: foster care and adoption, post-adoption services, and the Emergency Sanctuary that “provides a soft landing to children entering foster care,” says Carrie Bassett, development manager at Amara.

“Children often enter foster care confused and scared, with nothing more than the clothes on their back or a few items in a plastic bag,” Bassett explains. To help with kids’ transition, Amara created the “GiveDignity” campaign during GIVEBIG last year. The effort raised enough money to provide over 500 children with a duffel bag when welcomed to one of two sanctuaries in Seattle and Tacoma, where they could stay temporarily while their social workers and families worked to find the best long-term placement for the child.

With the bags, kids also received new pajamas and other necessary items to call their own. “Amara works to ensure children entering foster care feel cared for every step of the way and the duffel bags are a special part of that.”

Amara relies on philanthropy for 85 percent of its budget and is a great example of how smaller organizations use GIVEBIG to provide lasting impact in the community.

Large organizations have also had great success with GIVEBIG. The Seattle Public Library Foundation jumped on the GIVEBIG bandwagon at the start and is among the top fundraisers each year. Last year, it received 1,800 donations in the single day of GIVEBIG.

The Library Foundation supports the work of The Seattle Public Library by raising funds for new initiatives and programs that go beyond basic services.

“The funds we raise through GIVEBIG touch a number of important educational services offered by the Library,” says Jennifer Shin, the Library Foundation’s director of development.

GIVEBIG contributions have helped the Library expand its youth programs, including the popular Global Reading Challenge, a reading competition that now includes fourth- and fifth-graders from 69 Seattle public schools. Seattle students can also get free homework assistance at more library locations thanks to GIVEBIG.

“GIVEBIG donations even support a more robust collection of library books, as well library building improvements,” Shin adds.

As community needs arise, the library has been able to respond more effectively because of GIVEBIG.

GIVEBIG donations helped pilot a social worker at the Central Library and Ballard Branch. The resource specialist helped connect patrons in need with human resources, including transportation, food, housing and other services.

“Last year, 32 percent of GIVEBIG donors were new to The Seattle Public Library Foundation,” Shin says. “GIVEBIG allows us to communicate emerging needs in new ways that people are responding to. We are so very grateful for every donation and how we’ve been able to further the library mission.”

GIVEBIG donations support educational programs at The Seattle Public Library, including literacy activities.
GIVEBIG donations support educational programs at The Seattle Public Library, including literacy activities.

Funding new programs or capital projects is a favorite way nonprofits engage their donor base during GIVEBIG, as the Library Foundation proves.

A small theater company called theater simple uses donations to ensure “artists are treated fairly, in a respected and loving way,” says Llysa Holland, cofounder of the project-based nonprofit. Theater simple has been around since 1991 and tries to “provide an example of how you can have a life in the arts,” she says.

Holland and cofounder Andrew Litzky won a Seattle Foundation-funded Dollars for Change award during GIVEBIG last year. The $2,500 award is given multiple times throughout the day to recipients drawn from the participation organizations. “We knew exactly what we were going to do with it,” says Litzky.

Using the award and donations from 2017’s GIVEBIG, theater simple is funding the relaunch of one of their seminal works, a retelling of “The Master & Margherita.” Written in secret during the Cold War in Russia, the play is a satire with new relevance for today’s political times.

Because of GIVEBIG, a local poet, performers and graphic designers were funded entirely to announce the retelling of the play at a Seattle Arts Conference in late 2017. Rehearsals for the play start later this summer, with the show planned for fall.

 

Seattle Foundation’s GIVEBIG has been channeling community generosity to nonprofits since 2011. To learn more or make a donation, visit givebigseattle.org.