In this year of chaos, cancellations, and loss, everyone has been called upon to make sacrifices for our community.
We’ve had to choose each day how much to set aside, how much to share, and what kind of people to be. We have stayed home, worn masks, closed businesses, and missed celebrating life’s important milestones in person. We’ve learned new ways of doing things and hard lessons about the depth and the breadth of community needs.
Together, we have responded with compassion and generosity.
As we enter the giving season, I’m calling on everyone who can do so to show up and give generously for our community again. Nov. 9 is the first day of Give Local, the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound’s annual two-week online giving event to support local nonprofits. Four years ago, we created Give Local to make giving easy and accessible for everyone, and this year’s Give Local is the most important one ever.
No one is better at stretching limited resources to care for our communities than local nonprofit organizations. Still, this pandemic and its economic repercussions have challenged even our most courageous and seasoned leaders.
In March, when the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order was issued, local nonprofits faced many challenges. How do you move services online when the people you serve have limited internet access? When the supply chain is disrupted and people are afraid to leave their homes, how do you get essentials like food and medicine to those in need? How do you keep your crowded shelter, your food bank waiting room, or your health care clinic from becoming a hotspot for a rapidly spreading virus?
Often the volunteers who keep nonprofits running are retirees — a group particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus — so many helpers stayed home. New and changing safety protocols meant unexpected expenses for necessities such as masks, sanitizer and packaging. Revenue from live performances, fundraising events, classes, and other hands-on activities vanished.
Meanwhile, the needs in our communities did not. The needs grew.
In a flurry of resilience and creativity, our local nonprofits adapted. They refused to let kids go hungry or let seniors face the crisis alone. It was hard and fatiguing at times, but they learned. They changed their models, experimented, and listened to the people they serve. By forming new partnerships and trying things never done before, many even improved their reach and ability to make a positive impact. They’ve astounded us, but the challenges aren’t over and our nonprofits need our support to continue.
When we started Give Local in 2017, we were looking for a way to invite more people into local philanthropy. We recognized that the impact of many small donations can rival that of a larger one, and that many young people who start with small donations will give more later in their lives. We also wanted to broaden and deepen the habit of giving across Lewis, Mason and Thurston counties. And of course, we wanted to reach out to an internet-connected generation that is far more likely to give online than by writing a check.
This year, Give Local is happening at a crucial time. In the midst of an ongoing pandemic and a turbulent national election, so much remains uncertain. Yet, when we turn our attention to what’s happening on a local level, our next steps become more clear. There’s so much we can do here and now. And, if we continue to band together in support of our local nonprofits, we know they’ll be here, investing in our communities alongside us.
To amplify that investment, the Community Foundation and our sponsors are covering credit card fees and providing a $100,000 Bonus Fund, increasing the value of every donation. That means a gift made during Give Local helps even more where it’s needed to keep our communities strong. We also believe the more people know about the many excellent South Sound nonprofits, the more they’ll give.
These local nonprofits are right at the heart and soul of our communities. Time and again, they’ve been there for us. Now, I’m inviting you to show up for them. Please join me Nov. 9-20 by visiting spsgives.org, browsing the 80+ participating local nonprofits, and giving as generously as you can to the causes you care about. This place and the people who live here are so very worth it.
Mindie Reule is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound.