One in a series
Nonprofit agencies in Toledo and across the country are looking to capture some of the holiday spirit by creating a national day of giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
Giving Tuesday lands on Dec. 3 this year, and the hope is people will log on to computers en masse, make donations to their favorite charities, and create a tidal wave of giving from coast to coast.
Giving Tuesday had what some would call a soft launch last year, with agencies from just a handful of cities participating. The Toledo-based Arts Commission was one of those groups.
Ryan Bunch, performing and literary arts coordinator, said officials didn’t know what to expect and didn’t do much to promote the event but still managed to take in $800 in donations on Giving Tuesday 2012.
The Arts Commission used that money to help obtain a matching grant for its Young Artists at Work summer youth employment program, Mr. Bunch said.
From June 24 to Aug. 2, about 60 teenagers from across Toledo became artist apprentices. They created public murals on concrete platforms at the Roosevelt Pool near Smith Park on Dorr Street and on an interior wall in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Collingwood Avenue. They also designed and painted custom murals on park benches throughout the city.
Hundreds of high school students have learned about the arts through the program over the past 20 years, Mr. Bunch said.
Past programs have included writing poems that were featured on TARTA buses, African drumming workshops, and theatrical productions.
“This year, we are trying to raise $3,000 to hire a performing and literary arts clinician, a specialist in some kind of performance or literary art, to work with the kids,” Mr. Bunch said.
As Giving Tuesday expands this year to include more nonprofit groups, the Toledo Community Foundation is using its Web site, www.toledocf.org, as a central location where the public can go to find names of participating organizations.
About 60 groups are listed on the Web site and that number is expected to grow by Tuesday, said Keith Burwell, president of the foundation, which promotes philanthropy and works closely with most nonprofit agencies in the area.
People can give to any nonprofit they choose, but the Web site is there to help those who may not have a favorite charity, he said.
This donation effort is meant to be “organic” and each city and each nonprofit participating is working independently to encourage the public to make donations, Mr. Burwell said.
Mr. Burwell said this campaign to raise funds for nonprofit organizations is needed because many of these groups were hit hard and saw their donations drop dramatically after the great economic decline of 2008.
“We are supposedly out of the recession, but I can tell you with all the things in our economy that come out last, it’s the nonprofits that come out last. From the cultural organizations like the symphony to the soup kitchens, like the Kitchen for the Poor, they’re really suffering to come back.”
Harvey Savage, executive director of the Martin Luther King Center Kitchen for the Poor, agreed.
“I think we were hit hard by the recession because our donors tend to be middle-income people that have given to us for years and when their pockets are hit, they slow down on giving,” he said.
“Our donors were feeling insecure and I think that created issues for us.”
He said donations have slipped about 15 percent this year over last year, but the organization has seen a steady increase in people being referred by other nonprofits to the Kitchen for the Poor for assistance. Located on Vance Street, the organization provides about 55 boxes full of food for needy residents each month and serves a free lunch Monday through Friday.
“Normally it’s people from the neighborhood and a lot of them walk in. They are low to moderate income and we get a mix of men and women and children when school is out,” Mr. Savage said.
He said the agency is ready to take donations on Giving Tuesday through its Web site, www.kitchenforthepoor.org.
The Blade is partnering with the Toledo Community Foundation to help increase awareness about Giving Tuesday in the Toledo area.
John Fedderke, Blade marketing director, said this charitable effort stood out from the stack of similar requests on his desk.
“I think that the whole buy, buy, buy, shop, shop, shop holiday theme or direction is misguided. Thanksgiving, in particular, is about being thankful for what you have and also making sure that since you are lucky enough to have something, you remember to share with others,” Mr. Fedderke said.
The Toledo Community Foundation has a broad reach across the city with its ties to numerous nonprofit agencies and the agency has great credibility in the community, he said.
“Working together and all going in that common direction is more powerful than people just running around by themselves,” he said.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.