Give More 24! aims to raise $2 million in 24 hours on Thursday for Southwest Washington charities. That dollar goal was set about a month after last year’s all-day giving spree, well before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc.
Maury Harris, spokesman for event host the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, said organizers are sticking to the goal. It’s challenging but doable given that last year, the event raised almost $1.7 million for regional charities. Give More 24!, Harris said, is a way to highlight what’s good in Southwest Washington when there’s so much to be worried about.
“The community often rises to a challenge, and this is a challenging time,” he said.
About 230 nonprofit groups are participating, more than ever before. Harris attributes this to two things. One, the Community Foundation waived participation fees.
“The other reason is that COVID-19 is cutting into organizations’ operations,” he said.
Galas, auctions, luncheons — all the normal fundraisers are shifting online or not happening. The same goes for in-person programming that generates revenue.
The Ke Kukui Foundation wasn’t able to hold its largest annual event, Four Days of Aloha, a summertime Hawaiian festival in Esther Short Park that attracts thousands of people. It financially sustains the foundation throughout the year.
“Our foundation has been hit really hard because a lot of what we do is community relations and programs,” said Executive Director Kaloku Holt. “Everything involves people interacting.”
Holt wants to raise money to keep programs afloat and give the team something to (fingers crossed) prepare for next year.
“The hardest thing is not knowing what and when we can do anything,” he said.
Ongoing classes such as hula, Hawaiian language, Tahitian dance and drumming continued online but can be frustrating to try to teach virtually. Expenses, such as storage and studio rent, continue despite not being able to hold major money-making events.
The whole situation was starting to dispirit the normally optimistic Holt, but Give More 24! has lit a fire under him.
“We’re stoked be a part of it,” he said.
He hadn’t realized how long Give More 24! has occurred (it’s in its seventh year) and figures it’s a good opportunity to get the Ke Kukui Foundation’s name out there.
The Chinook Trail Association is another nonprofit participating in Give More 24! for the first time. It aims to create a 300-mile loop trail around the Columbia River Gorge.
“To do that we need more money,” said Steve Jones, the association’s president.
The pandemic hampered trail work parties. And, it’s challenging getting together to do the necessary planning and procedures that go into building a trail system.
As a small, mostly volunteer-run organization, Jones said members are always looking for funding sources. The Chinook Trail Association aims to raise at least $1,500 on Thursday.
“We’re small so we’re dipping out toe in the water to see how this works,” Jones said.
These days some nonprofits’ services are needed more than ever, and yet they can’t raise money in the traditional way.
The Clark County Saddle Club, for instance, housed nearly 150 animals evacuated from Oregon wildfires. Tammy Steen, a longtime member, said the club wants to build awareness and memberships and gather donations to move to its new Battle Ground location.
The saddle club held a dinner and auction in February, “and then everything stopped because COVID came,” Steen said.
Game shows and barrel races are typical money-makers for the organization, but they were canceled.
“We lost what we normally would be bringing in from having shows,” she said.
Om Thrive, which provides yoga and wellness services for domestic violence survivors and under-served communities of color, is participating in Give More 24! for the first time. It’s been mostly doing virtual events and just started some in-person events at its new studio in Portland.
“Everything has been different,” said founder and Executive Director Day Bibb. The Vancouver resident said many yoga studios remain closed and others aren’t taking new clients. “It’s been a learning curve.”
Wildfire smoke also meant she couldn’t hold outdoor classes.
“You just have to get creative with the fundraising now. People want to give, you just have to give them a platform to do so,” she said.
Bibb is using Give More 24! to raise $20,000 for virtual programming for both adults and children. During the pandemic, she’s found her kids need something to do — a physical activity and something that helps them cope. She’s certified in imagination yoga, which is specifically for school-age kids and helps them build mindfulness and a sense of grounding.
“Right now kids really need that,” Bibb said.
She feels mixed emotions asking people to support Om Thrive when victims of ongoing wildfires could also use support. Day is rooting for everybody to have a successful day of local philanthropy on Thursday.
About $600,000 in matching prizes can make it easier for nonprofits to reach their financial goals.
“Giving on this day you’re literally giving more as long as you go for one of those matches,” Harris said.
The Community Foundation plans to update people throughout the day with videos from around the region, and there will be an evening music session online.
Give More 24! donations have always been made online, but the day of giving has also generally occurred alongside offline activities and events that play into the festiveness of the day.
On Thursday, the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program is holding a virtual talent show that replaces its regular annual fundraiser, Battle of the Lawyer Bands. The music competition was an opportunity for the legal community to have fun together and rally around the legal aid organization in an informal way (outside the courthouse).
“We wanted to have something that’s just as silly,” especially with all the stress attached to the pandemic, said Executive Director Elizabeth Fitzgearld.
She’s found lawyers are like everyone else; they’re antsy and they’ve been working on hobbies while stuck at home. Lawyers will send videos of themselves doing their talent — baking bread, making jump shots, playing the flute — and the videos will be streamed on Facebook throughout the day.
Fitzgearld’s goal is to raise $10,000 to match a $10,000 sponsorship.
YWCA Clark County’s 25th annual luncheon was already planned for Sept. 24 before the pandemic happened. Brittini Lasseigne, director of philanthropy, said the nonprofit realized it would not be able to have an in-person event and considered changing the date. Instead, leaders hope holding a livestream luncheon during Give More 24! attracts new donors. Between the luncheon and Give More 24!, YWCA aims to raise $135,000.
“Having this virtual luncheon is a new thing for us and comes with its stressors,” Lasseigne said, adding that registration is only about one-fourth of normal. “It is nerve-wracking to see that.”
But, she also knows virtual fundraisers are vastly different; people may register at the last minute or not attend at all. YWCA won’t really know until Thursday.
The Columbian is a media sponsor of Give More 24!.