Delawareans will have an opportunity Thursday and Friday to donate to their choice of more than 500 nonprofit organizations throughout the state during the annual “Do More 24” fundraising drive.
One of the things that sets Do More 24 apart from other fundraisers is that it includes contests that allow nonprofits to stretch their donations by winning competitions.
“What makes it fun is that people could donate $5 and that $5 could turn into $100 because of the stretch funds that are available,” said Jim Martin, founder of the Shepherd’s House in Georgetown.
Do More 24 is a one-day online charitable giving extravaganza sponsored by the United Way of Delaware and Spur Impacts. The event is designed to showcase the work of Delaware’s nonprofit organizations and ignite a culture of community-wide giving.
The event will run from Thursday, March 3 at 6 p.m. until Friday, March 4 at 6 p.m.
Last year, 412 nonprofits collectively received more than $2 million from over 11,000 donors — more than all five previous Do More 24 drives combined.
Organizers are hoping to repeat that success this year.
Tierra Fair, senior director of community engagement with United Way of Delaware, said the event gives everyone the opportunity to be a philanthropist.
“Nonprofits across the state do a lot for Delawareans,” Fair said. “These nonprofits really need our help and support to fulfill their missions and this is a way for us to do that and get excited about it too.”
She said the Do More 24 platform is sort of like online shopping. Donors can visit the website and search by organization name or even by category.
For example, a donor who is passionate about education might type that into the search bar and give money to their choice of organization — or multiple — within that specific category.
Donations made during the event will be processed through the website, which allows nonprofits and donors to track how much is raised throughout the giving day.
To add some excitement, nonprofit organizations also compete for cash and non-cash incentives made available by sponsors, explained Stuart Comstock-Gay, president and CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation.
The Delaware Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on partnering with donors to build opportunities for other nonprofit groups throughout the state.
That group is one of many sponsors that have donated to a matching pool designed to increase the value of every donation.
“We put some money in so that when people donate to organizations, this big pool of match money will increase the amount every gift is worth,” Comstock-Gay said. “Throughout the event, there will be a variety of times when, for example, the most number of gifts during this hour will get an extra $500, or the largest total dollar amount this hour will get a $500 bonus.”
One of the groups that benefited from those supplemental funds last year was The Shepherd’s Office in Georgetown.
The Shepherd’s Office is a resource group that aids folks working through challenges caused by homelessness, rejection, addiction, criminal history and socioeconomic status. The group aims to address those challenges holistically, including social, emotional, physical, mental and spiritual approaches to healing.
The organization also provides free hot homemade meals every weekday, including a free lunch on Mondays and Thursdays and a free dinner on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“Last year we came in first place in the category of small nonprofits in the state,” said the group’s founder, Jim Martin. “There were lots of small donations and they add up. We had about 400 people that donated last year and we’re hoping for about 800 people to donate this year.”
The Shepherd’s Office has set a goal of $50,000 for the one-day fundraiser.
Martin emphasized that while The Shepherd’s Office is enthusiastically asking for donations, donors should give to whatever nonprofit organization they feel most passionate about.
He gave the Barbara K. Brooks Transition House in Georgetown as an example.
The Brooks Transition House helps women regain their footing and boost their self-confidence to pursue a clean, productive and happy life.
The organization “offers support to women ages 18 or older who are in recovery from life-controlling situations,” said Deborah Short, president and founder of the Brooks House. “Sometimes it’s mental health issues, sometimes it’s drug or alcohol addiction, and they’re women who are looking to restore their lives, restore and rebuild relationships and just learn how to live the best life they can live.”
Do More 24 is the only fundraiser the Brooks House does all year, Short said.
“I think sometimes people get tired of people asking and asking for help,” she said. “That’s not to say that people don’t generously donate all the time. We have folks who have made a commitment to donate every month and we have folks who donate in other ways in cash.”
The money from Do More 24 won’t just go to the organization’s general operating fund, though.
“The money will mostly go towards helping with transportation and scholarships for women,” Short said. “Many women don’t have money, don’t have a job — they don’t have anything. So thanks to our donors, we’re able to give them scholarships and help them until they’re in a position where they can pay their portion.”
When donors give to the Barbara K. Brooks Transition House, “they are directly helping people who are less fortunate than themselves,” Short said.
The Brooks House has set a goal of $40,000 for the one-day fundraiser.
Jennifer Saienni, director of nonprofit engagement at Spur Impacts, said COVID-19 has — against all odds — been a boon for online fundraising.
“With the pandemic, more people are doing things online, so people are feeling more comfortable participating in an online fundraiser,” Saienni said. “About 40 percent of the people who donated last year were first-time donors, which is pretty substantial. That’s a pretty impactful number.”
Fair said United Way of Delaware was “so nervous” last year that Do More 24 wouldn’t be as successful because of the pandemic.
Instead, donations almost quadrupled, she said.
“COVID has enlightened us to this collective idea that we’re all in this together and we all need help,” Fair said. “So when we can help, we give help and when we need help, we get help.”
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