Lancaster County 24-hour charity event continues to drive nonprofit giving
When the Lancaster County Community Foundation created the Extraordinary Give in 2012, its goal was to inspire philanthropy in Lancaster County. The $41 million the event has made in the past seven years for county nonprofits was never expected, the foundation's leader said.
“The real underlying impact of Extra Give is that it’s so much bigger than the money,” said Sam Bressi, the Lancaster County Community Foundation’s president and CEO. “We never set a dollar target. We want to inspire people and draw them into philanthropy. It has uncapped this conversation about giving.”
Jack Crowley, president of Water Street Mission, a Lancaster nonprofit focused on reducing poverty, said that last year alone it gained 200 donors, many of whom continued to give during the year.
The Extraordinary Give is held the Friday before Thanksgiving. During the 24-hour event, Lancaster County residents are invited to celebrate in the city with a lineup of live music and family events as hundreds of county nonprofits raise money through an online fundraising platform. Organizations also win prizes depending on the money they receive and when they receive it.
Foundation Executive Vice President Tracy Cutler said it’s crucial to hold celebrations on the day of the event to celebrate the generosity of donors.
“There’s this intensity of the 24 hours of giving,” Cutler said. “We work in the lead up with the sector to offer training so that organizations can take strategic advantage of it.”
This year’s Extraordinary Give, held Nov. 16, raised over $10.2 million for 493 nonprofits. In 2016, the event raised $7.1 million, which rose $8.6 million in 2017. Bressi said he believes the Give continues to break fundraising records because of word of mouth, continued support from sponsors and tweaks to the event itself.
This year, the foundation partnered with an online platform called GiveGab, which allows donors to act as fundraising champions for specific nonprofits. Bressi said that by the end of the event this year, 1,200 people had signed up to be fundraising champions. Those fundraising champions help the Give because, according to Bressi, they continue the foundation’s goal of building a conversation around philanthropy.
“An individual you respect and know endorses and makes an ask for an organization,” he said. “It’s about the community spirit and pride, everyone feeling that sense of connection.”
Bressi said that in past years, the foundation used a vehicle known as the give-mobile to collect donations, but decided this year to instead focus on efficiency by giving volunteers magnets to put on their cars and buying ad space on local billboards.
Lancaster City Alliance, a nonprofit that invests in economic development in the city by providing amenities like bike racks and trees as well as helping to clean the city through its adopt-a-block program, raised over $21,000 during the event.
The Lancaster City Alliance has partnered with the give every year since its inception and Alliance President Marshall Snively said the energy it creates for philanthropy in the county is unrivaled.
“The amount of activity and participation both from the nonprofits and our residents and businesses that give so much isn’t something seen in other places,” Snively said. “Being a part of that is especially exciting.”