Behind-the-scenes with the Community Foundation as it prepares for Give For Good Louisville
By Mariah Kline
Photos by Andrea Hutchinson
The Community Foundation of Louisville (CFL) began its 24-hour giving day, now known as Give For Good Louisville, in 2014. Since then, the annual event has raised nearly $14 million for local nonprofits. This year’s participants include more than 500 organizations, all of whom have received invaluable guidance from CFL in order to raise as much as possible for their cause on the big day.
In the last several weeks, The Voice-Tribune has closely followed the foundation and two of its key players, Vice President of Marketing & Communications Cara Baribeau and Marketing & Communications Associate Molly Melia, leading up to Give For Good Louisville on Sept. 13. Watching Baribeau, Melia and their colleagues at work is inspiring. Their passion for helping the community truly knows no bounds. Thanks to the efforts of this team, every participating group has the chance to propel their cause forward and serve more people than ever before.
LIVE AND IN COLOR
Last year’s Give For Good donations surpassed $4.6 million. This year CFL hopes to reach $5 million via micro-campaigns each nonprofit launches.
“Three hundred sixty-five days a year, we help our donors do more than they ever thought possible with their charitable giving and invest in nonprofits to help build their capacity to best serve our community,” said CFL President and CEO Susan Barry. “Through Give For Good Louisville, we’re able to show this on a grand scale.”
Social media plays a major part in generating buzz for the day of giving as well as telling the stories of nonprofits. CFL spends a few weeks every summer visiting different organizations and filming a series of Facebook Live videos. Getting to Know the Good, as they call it, allows featured organizations to share their stories and missions and introduce themselves to new donors.
I tagged along one afternoon as they visited Kentucky Shakespeare in Central Park. Producing Artistic Director Matt Wallace said his organization raised around $20,000 during the 2017 Give For Good campaign and look forward to what Sept. 13 has in store.
“Give For Good is great at exposing more people to our work,” explained Wallace, “and not just our audience members or the folks we perform for in schools but people who just might not realize what we do.”
Kentucky Shakespeare puts on 60 performances of seven different productions each summer, and every performance is free. By the end of July, they had already served nearly 22,000 people. “Because we’re free, I believe we engage the overall demographics of Louisville more than any other organization just about,” said Kerry Wang, the nonprofit’s board chair.
The live videos can reach thousands of people in a matter of hours thanks to the accessibility of social networking.
“Each nonprofit’s constituents, friends and family members see it when it’s shared, so it has this kind of ripple effect,” said Melia.
“It shows the power behind these organizations that are doing such great work and that’s why it takes off so well.”
Preparing for Give For Good begins months before the actual day, starting with a nonprofit training camp, which was held this year at the Muhammad Ali Center. This event brought together several fundraising experts to teach more than 300 people from different nonprofits how to make the most out of the 24-hour giving period.
Representatives from GiveGab, the online platform that makes the entire day possible, spoke at length about peer-to-peer fundraising, goal setting and the best way to utilize the platform’s tools to attract donors. Last year’s participants who implemented peer-to-peer fundraising – having one’s supporters share the fundraiser via their social networks – managed to earn an extra $100,000 in donations.
The day’s keynote speaker was Bobbie Donahue, a faculty member from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy who spoke at length about donor engagement. She advised audience members to shift their focus from what their organization needs to what the community needs, getting to the heart of what really matters and why the giving day is so essential. “You are an advocate for donors to help them make change in the community that they can’t do on their own,” Donahue said.
Following Donahue, Sarah Riley from the Courier Journal led an enlightening talk on effective storytelling, which resonated with several participants. “I like the storytelling idea,” said Pamela Carter with USA Cares, a nonprofit that assists post-9/11 veterans and their families in financial crisis. “We have some amazing stories to tell from veterans and families that we’ve helped, so I think we can take away a lot from this.”
To be part of Give For Good and receive such a high level of assistance with fundraising is beneficial.
Every person attended the camp for free as part of their nonprofit registration and received invaluable advice they can carry with them long after the day of giving has passed. For first-time participants and seasoned professionals alike, the camp provided both information and inspiration.
“This is a great learning opportunity,” said Kassi Cawood, board chair and volunteer with Dogs Helping Heroes, which provides trained service dogs to wounded veterans and first responders. “We’re a small nonprofit so we have a lot of volunteers with a lot of energy, but maybe we don’t have all the direction that we need. …We all have our good intentions and good ideas, but now I have some direction that I can share and utilize with our volunteers.”
“As the host and organizer, what’s so encouraging to me is that there’s a real thirst for this information,” said Baribeau. “Seeing the turnout and the amount of engagement is a great testament to what the Community Foundation does, which is build the capacity of our organization and serving our community.”
THE GOLDEN TICKET
CFL is not the only institution that makes Give For Good Louisville such a resounding success. They partner with several sponsors to make the most out of the day, allowing for bonuses to be given out and a large prize pool to be collected from.
Golden Ticket Sponsor Delta Dental makes the day’s impact go even further by awarding $1,000 bonuses to randomly selected charities. The company gives out one an hour for 24 hours, and six additional tickets are awarded at the Give For Good rally, adding up to a total of 30 $1,000 boosts for nonprofits.
The midday rally, which is held at Fourth Street Live, serves as a celebration of the day. Out of the 500 participating, around 200 organizations gather under the atrium to share in the excitement with their volunteers and meet members of the community. Outside of the rally, many organizations hold open houses, meals and other events on the big day to connect with their supporters and raise awareness of their cause.
“At the foundation,” said Barry, “we believe that anyone can be a philanthropist and this day makes it easy for everyone to see how if we all do a little, we can have a big impact on our community.”
While a great deal of time and energy is put toward this one day of giving, CFL does not lose sight of helping nonprofits achieve their long-term goals and succeed in the future. Below you will find an article written by Dr. Michael G. Strawser and Molly Melia about how nonprofits can interest young philanthropists while continuing to reach their current donor base. The Bellarmine University professor and the CFL associate delivered this information at the nonprofit training camp during an informative panel and presentation about millenials and philanthropy, giving those in attendance advice for how they can garner support from the coming generations.
Behind the scenes, the Community Foundation of Louisville works tirelessly to ensure that Give For Good reaches as many people as possible. Now, it’s our turn. The goal is $5 million. The day is Sept. 13. The community is ours to make better. VT
Give For Good Louisville
Midnight to midnight Sept. 13
The Counties Served:
Give For Good goes beyond Louisville Metro
Next Generation Philanthropy
How nonprofits can reach young donors
By Dr. Michael G. Strawser and Molly Melia
Most organizations struggle to address the “generational crisis.” For workplaces, questions center around onboarding, recruiting and retaining talent. For nonprofits, questions and concerns revolve around next generation philanthropy. Who are these “next gen” donors and how do nonprofits reach this young donor base while engaging current givers?
Recently, Pew Research Center designated 1996 as the “final” birth year for millennials, meaning the youngest millennials are 22 and oldest Generation Z members are 21 – old enough to volunteer, display passion for causes and donate.
If you follow next generation philanthropic patterns and habits, the following statistics will not surprise you:
Averaged 40 volunteer hours over the past year;
Account for more total charitable donations than any other age group;
Will inherit $30 trillion from their boomer parents.
32 percent donate their own money to causes;
50 percent are looking for a job in the “volunteering” realm.
So, how can you engage next generation donors?
1. Stop focusing on Millennials.
Millennials grab headlines because they are transformative, but Generation Z members are nicknamed “Philanthroteens” for a reason. They are passionate, engaged and want to be involved. Engagement strategies should focus on those even younger than millennials by creating opportunities to promote your campaign and volunteer.
2. Be mobile ready and digital friendly.
Leverage platforms that are already in use by younger generations. Millennials love Facebook (for now), Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, and Generation Z loves YouTube. Meet younger donors where they are and ask them how they want to be engaged. Online remains the number one donation preference for millennials but personal request, email and direct mail rank closely behind. Emphasize mobile giving and online giving options, but don’t forsake the old ways just yet – this will help you continue to engage older donors as well.
3. Share impact across channels.
All donors want to know what happens to their money when it leaves their pocket. Supporters, especially younger donors, need a clear call to action. Be transparent about what you need. Share successes. Relay impact. Emphasize community. Engage your donors in the narrative so your stories resonate even more. And, share content across multiple platforms. Then encourage Millennials and Generation Z to share your stories and leverage their ability to expand your audience.
These engagement strategies are not exhaustive. Your organization should still develop a comprehensive communication strategy that considers message, medium and audience. But, it is important to consider how to reach younger generations. Consider creating a board position specifically for a member of generation Y and/or Z; reiterate the power of peer-to-peer giving, and promote online giving days. Remember to treat Millennial and Generation Z donors like other givers – stay in contact, say thank you, and don’t minimize contributions of time or money.
Millennials and Generation Z want to give, but it may look different. Their discretionary income levels may not be as substantial, but there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about next generation donors. Remember, they are passionate, engaged and active, and they want to participate – empower them. VT
Assistant professor and the director of graduate programs in the School of Communication at Bellarmine University, Michael is a communication trainer and consultant through his business, Legacy Communication. He specializes in communication skills training and inter-generational interaction.
Marketing and communications associate for CFL, Molly assists with branding, marketing, PR and content creation. She also works as the project coordinator for Give For Good Louisville and served as a facilitator for the Louisville Youth Philanthropy Council. Molly is a graduate from the Master of Arts in Communication program at Bellarmine University.