Long Beach Gives — a 24-hour, citywide effort to help nonprofits of every size, shape and purpose — is back for its second year, this time on Sept. 24.

Last year, the first giving day saw 93 nonprofits raise more than $822,000, according to campaign director Niko Galvez. This year, more than 150 groups have signed up and the goal is $1 million — a high bar in this world of COVID-19 shutdowns and economic turmoil.

"For some of the nonprofits, this (Giving Day) is their big event for the year," Galvez said. "They've had to cancel their galas and big fundraisers, so they're counting on this."

Nonprofit groups from social service providers to theater companies signed up earlier this year to participate. Michelle Byerly, executive director of The Nonprofit Partnership and one of the founders of Long Beach Gives, said hiring Galvez as campaign director and greater need has driven the increased participation. And most of those signed up are already taking advantage of the opportunity.

"All of the training has been online this year," Byerly said. "We've done sessions on telling your story, fund development, online fundraising, using social media, etc. We have offered 18 hours of training this year, and we've had a lot of participation."

Long Beach Gives was the brainchild of Julie Meenan, executive director of the Josephine Gumbiner Foundation. That foundation, some grants and corporate sponsors have financed preparations for the 2020 Giving Day on Sept. 24.

"Long Beach Gives provides nonprofits with the tools and training to raise unrestricted dollars from individuals, particularly new and younger donors on Sept. 24 and all year long," Meenan said in an email. "The Josephine S. Gumbiner Foundation, and the generous sponsors of Long Beach Gives, understand that foundation and corporate funding makes up less than 17% of a typical nonprofit's income and by increasing the number of individual donors, nonprofit organizations are better able to endure these challenging times in order to continue delivering their services to their clients and patrons. This is truly a community wide effort."

Those preparations include a new interactive website, www.longbeachgives.org, that went live Monday, Aug. 31.

"We're pushing peer fundraisers right now," Byerly said. "People can sign up to have their own giving page for a charity, reaching out to their own peers."

"You have to go through the website to get to the nonprofit's page," Galvez added. "Almost all of the nonprofits have pages up already."

The website also offers a search tool that categorizes nonprofits by their cause — environment, seniors, mental health, the arts, etc. It then takes the user to the specific nonprofit page.

Last year, Long Beach Gives provided some matching funds as fund-raising incentives. This year, nonprofits are turning to their supporters to create individual matching funds, while Long Beach gives will offer the nonprofits $250 prizes in a range of categories.

"(Our) goals are to raise awareness about nonprofits and the critical role they play in our communities," a press release said, "and to inspire people to give generously to nonprofits."

One of the ways the group is raising awareness is participation with the Grunion Gazette to put out the Kindness (sponsored by the Port of Long Beach) special section on Sept. 17, the day nonprofits can begin collecting donations. Another is creation of a youth outreach team, reaching out to younger generations, primarily through social media.

A side benefit to Long Beach Gives has been increased collaboration and information sharing between organizations. A hot topic this year is the potential for donor fatigue, with so much need and so many asks.

"Giving has been trending down since the beginning of the pandemic, but we're still in a better position than we thought we'd be," Byerly said. "We've had the Tuesday Giving Now, end of year giving coming and the regular Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving). But I do think people care. And we rely more on the smaller donations — we averaged about $50 a donation last year. People may not be able to give $500, but they can and will give $50."

For more information about Long Beach Gives, go to the website, www.longbeachgives.org or email niko@longbeachgives.org.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

Load comments