Clark County gets into spirit of charitable campaign

Nonprofits reach out on global day of giving

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator



#GivingTuesday in Clark County

For a list of participating nonprofits in the area visit Nonprofit Network Southwest Washington.

Learn more about the broader effort, founded by the 92nd Street Y nonprofit in New York City, at #GivingTuesday.

Some of us, no matter how charitable our spirit, don't give unless asked. So #GivingTuesday is all about asking us to help better the world, with dollars or deeds.

Centered around a Dec. 3 social media blitz, hence the hashtag moniker, the international effort to get people thinking philanthropically during the holiday shopping season has united nearly 40 Clark County nonprofits this year. About 8,000 nonprofits have pledged to take part globally, a more than threefold increase over participation in last fall's inaugural campaign.

"We're getting together in a big ask," said Jeanne Kojis, executive director of the Nonprofit Network of Southwest Washington.

Tuesday is meant to be a counterpoint to rampant post-Thanksgiving consumerism, where shoppers hunt for deals not only on Black Friday, but Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

"It's an opportunity to look at our community and see how we could dedicate our giving and our charity to the nonprofits of our community, rather than Black Friday or Cyber Monday," said Cheri Martin, executive director of the

Parks Foundation of Clark County, which relies on donations and grants in its mission to support recreation.

"It's a time to remind people that there are other ways to give gifts."

Martin said the Parks Foundation took part in the first year of #GivingTuesday but couldn't pinpoint any donations that came through because of the campaign.

She's hopeful for this year's effort now that local groups have united in the publicity push, unlike in 2012 where they went it alone.

The campaign bills itself as a "movement," and there is no over-arching organization collecting donations. Each participating group handles its own fundraising.

Some local nonprofits are planning events Tuesday, such as an open house at Second Step Housing, but most are focusing their efforts on blanketing the Web with descriptions of their charitable efforts and financial needs.

That means tons of tweets, Facebook posts, email blasts and more. The campaign is even asking people to take a photo of themselves -- a "selfie" -- and post it online with a caption and hashtag "#unselfie" explaining how they plan to take part.

A week before #GivingTuesday, its namesake hashtag was already being used a handful of times a minute on Twitter, including tweets from the Gates Foundation and the White House.

"People may get sick of it by the end of the day," joked Lifeline Connections Development Director Jeri Shumate, who is coordinating local #GivingTuesday efforts.

Other participating nonprofits in Clark County include the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington, Community Mediation Services and the Clark County Food Bank.

"The bottom line for all of this is that people in the community know nonprofit agencies do good work, but they might not always think about the fact that they have a really important role in helping those nonprofits through their support," Shumate said.