Giving Tuesday is an annual international movement that occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It’s intended to encourage generosity and giving during the busy holiday season. In this spirit, the Richland County Foundation launched a local giving effort known as Richland Gives to promote the efforts happening here locally in Richland County.
Richland Gives officially launched in 2015, and has since raised over $725,000 for community nonprofits.
“We (the Richland County Foundation) wanted to provide a way for local nonprofits to raise money, to improve their operating revenue and to increase awareness about the great work that they do,” highlighted Maura Teynor, Chief Advancement Officer of the Richland County Foundation.
For Discovery School, a local alternative school teaching an International Baccalaureate (IB) education, Richland Gives does just that.
“In general, Richland Gives helps put money in our operating fund,” explained Julie Schwartz, Head of the School. “We are an independent school with no funding from taxes, state or federal levels. We are completely reliant on people believing in our mission.
“The IB education has proven that it develops peace makers, change makers, problem solvers and people who change the world. An IB education results in people who are internationally minded and movers and shakers,” said Schwartz. Whether you have school-aged children or not, the mission of Discovery School is all a part of bettering the community.
Richland Gives has provided Discovery School an outlet to help share this mission with a wider audience who may not have otherwise known what they did, thinking they were just like every other school. This additional support has gone a long way in helping sustain the school’s operating expenses.
The funds raised through Richland Gives are used to improve the facility, provide professional development and upgrade technology. Remaining funds are also used to provide scholarships for students.
Last year, Discovery School won third place for the small nonprofit category, raising over $20,000. This year, Schwartz hopes to hit $35,000 and is eyeing using the additional funds for a new set of bleachers.
Like Discovery School, The Lucas Community Center (LCC) also acknowledged the large impact participating in Richland Gives has had on its ability to serve the community.
Last year LCC won first place for the small nonprofit category, raising close to $31,000. This tripled their previous year’s total. They were able to use the funds to build a new outdoor pavilion in Lucas, which in turn helped its programs flourish this year. It also provided a great asset to the community.
“We run an annual car show, and they used the pavilion for selling food. We have a local church that used the pavilion for a summer church picnic. It was used for three band concerts this summer,” said LCC Assistant Director Margaret Martin.
This year, LCC hopes to use the funds raised to add an outdoor band stage along with continuing to support the numerous community programs happening including a local food bank that serves 300 people twice a month, a 24-hour prayer chapel, an after-school program, the Open Door Café, an exercise class hosted by the YMCA and more.
LCC has really embraced the light-hearted competitiveness of Richland Gives. Coming in first place last year awarded LCC $3,000 from the Richland County Foundation for being atop the leaderboard at the end of the event. It also received one of the $500 Golden Hour prizes, a $1,000 matching grant for being one of the first 25 organizations to raise $1,000 as well as a $500 grant for increasing its donations by 30 percent from the previous year.
“That’s $5,000 in extra money that went on top of our local people’s donations! It was quite fun,” exclaimed Martin.
For Martin, participating in Richland Gives goes beyond a fun and competitive way to fundraise. It also provides a way to meet other nonprofit leaders across the community. “It’s a lot of fun, and we meet the heads of other nonprofits, and that’s been a wonderful experience to make those connections,” said Martin.
About Richland Gives and how you can get involved
Richland Gives is a month-long online giving event that culminates in a celebration event on Giving Tuesday, which will occur on Dec. 3 this year. From Nov. 1 through the end of the event on Dec. 3, individuals can visit the Richland Gives website to submit donations to a participating nonprofit of their choice.
To encourage active participation, the Richland County Foundation added matching grant prize incentives in 2016. “This year we have about $46,000 worth of grant prizes available to the nonprofits,” said Teynor.
Matching grants range from $1,000 for the first 25 organizations to raise $1,000, as well as $500 for increasing your donations by 30 percent from the previous year. Along with the matching grants throughout the month, the Richland County Foundation also offers additional grant money throughout the day of giving event on Dec. 3. There are $500 golden ticket prizes for the nonprofit that raises the most money that hour as well as leaderboard grant amounts for top three small and large nonprofits at the end of the event.
When Richland Gives launched in 2015, there were 65 participating organizations that raised $65,000. In 2018, there were 88 participating nonprofits that raised over $309,000. This year, there are 90 participating nonprofits, including newcomers like 33 Forever and Clearfork Valley Foundation.
Schwartz encourages community members to remember that Richland Gives is for the whole community, regardless of age.
“I would sit down as a family and talk about the importance of giving. Look at the Richland Gives platform and pick a few organizations to give to.” Schwartz continued, “supporting causes that mean something to you and that make your community better and improve the quality of life in Richland County is a great lesson for us all.”
No donation is too small either. Last year, the smallest gift received was $5. Every dollar counts and matters.
Donations are currently being accepted and go toward the overall Richland Gives leaderboard standings. To learn more about Richland Gives and browse participating organizations, visit https://richlandgives.mightycause.com/search.
Community members are also invited to attend the Leaderboard Watch Party on Dec. 3 from 5-7 pm at Idea Works. Guests will be invited to write their favorite nonprofit on a raffle ticket as they arrive. A ticket will be drawn every 15 minutes during the event where the organization on the raffle ticket will earn a $500 matching grant (organizations can only win one time during the watch party). For more information on the watch party, click here.