Give to the Max raises $2 million for area charities

November 13, 2011

The region’s nonprofits are celebrating a fundraising victory after a 24-hour online giving campaign last week pumped $2 million into a sector that has struggled with fewer donations during the nation’s slow economic recovery.

Nearly 1,300 nonprofits collected dollars for a full day through the online fundraising platform, Razoo, which organized the campaign in partnership with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and the region’s United Way chapter. The Washington Post was one of the media sponsors for the Give to the Max event.

“I haven’t seen this kind of energy in our nonprofit community in a long time,” said Terri Freeman, president of the community foundation, which donated $50,000 to the event.

Nonprofit leaders tout it as a timely event in a region where a sluggish economy forced nearly 60 percent of nonprofits to cut salaries and staff since the recession, according to a report by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement.

“Now we can breath a big sigh of relief,” said Steve Park, executive director of Little Lights Urban Ministries, a nonprofit that provides educational and economic support for youth and families in Southeast Washington.

The $79,000 the organization raised — $38,000 from donors and the rest in awards — will cover a budget shortfall from when two foundations pulled out a total of $60,000 in funding.

The charity sent postcards to donors announcing the event, posted commercials online, created a Facebook event page, held a small party at its office and charged its 100 weekly volunteers to reach out to family and friends.

Park says the funds, which totaled 10 percent of its annual budget, will be used to purchase a new van and provide funds for its teen internship program.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a charity that provides shelter and counseling for troubled youth and families, saw a 30 percent cut in government funding in the past year and is a beneficiary of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage giants that recently announced they would spend down their charitable dollars in the coming years.

The organization was forced to make cutbacks in staffing for workforce development and parental training, and increase its volunteer support base.

“Our resources are stretched thin so this is just the kind of thing we needed to raise money,” said James Beck, the organization’s development director.

To lure donors through Facebook, the charity live-streamed staff members smashing each other in the face with pies.

The $4,000 it raised will support the shelter program for runaway youth and buy books and school supplies.

Razoo, based in the District, first launched the online giving campaign in Minnesota two years ago, raising $14 million for charities across the state.

Vanessa Small covers philanthropy and nonprofits for Capital Business. She also spotlights newly appointed executives in the New at the Top column, which chronicles their journeys to the top. Small was raised in Orange County, Ca. and graduated from Howard University.
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