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Giving Tuesday ‘alive, well’ and creative for 30-plus Missoula nonprofits

Missoula Community Foundation
CASA Giving Tuesday
Posted at 8:13 AM, Dec 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-04 10:13:08-05

MISSOULA — Deemed “a global generosity movement,” Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 based on one simple concept: to encourage people to do good.

According to Linda McCarthy, Downtown Missoula Partnership executive director, at least 30 nonprofits are raising money during Giving Tuesday, which she said “is definitely alive and well in Missoula.”

Donors appear to be doing just that, starting with Opportunity Resources Inc., which by mid-afternoon needed only $2,500 more to buy an essential $10,000 para-transit van for its disabled clients.

“We’ve been promoting it for about two weeks now, leading up to Giving Tuesday,” said Donna Roness, marketing and events manager at Opportunity Resources. “Today is the last day, but if people still want to give, they can go to our www.orimt.org website and they can donate directly there. Or call us directly at 406-329-1786 or go directly to our Facebook page.”

The van will be used to transport clients to medical appointments and work.

Roness said her office also sends out an end-of-the-year donation letter to prospective donors to raise as many funds as possible by Dec. 31.

Opportunity Resources has provided services, including housing and assisted living, for people with disabilities in Missoula since 1955.

On the Giving Tuesday website, wwwgivingtuesday.org, only two Montana towns are signed up for the visual map of current community campaigns: Helena and Stevensville.

But Missoula nonprofits seem independently on board in their own ways.

CASA Giving Tuesday
CASA of Missoula executive director Scott Appel, recruitment doordinator Katie Didier and program manager Kirsten Pulito work with between 200 to 300 individual donors, 288 children and 120 volunteer advocates.

Among dozens of Missoula nonprofits listed at www.MakeItMissoula.com, CASA of Missoula, Inc., prefers to fundraise at other times – and not necessarily on Giving Tuesday.

“For us, it’s not a huge event,” said Scott Appel, CASA of Missoula executive director. “We certainly post on our Facebook page and Instagram and we advertise in that way that today is Giving Tuesday. For us, it’s probably not the most significant fundraising thing that we do. A day like today, there’s so much competition.”

Instead, CASA depends heavily on its annual Light of Hope Gala fundraiser on Jan. 31, a Super Hero Run in the spring and partnering with other community businesses like a ReStyle Clothing Exchange bag sale and Plonk Missoula wine dinners to raise funds.

“Our annual budget is somewhere around a little over $300,000,” said Appel. We’ve raised roughly half of our budget from the community through local fundraising activity. That combination of activities raises a little more than half of our budget. The rest comes through grants and contracts with the state.”

Both donors and potential donors receive such mail requesting donations, too.

“We benefit from the profits and we do a semi-annual mail appeal,” said Appel. “We’re getting the community to think about supporting nonprofits; its good from that standpoint.”

CASA sends out a monthly newsletter to about 120 volunteer advocates, the adults who advocate for 288 children enrolled in the program, covering Missoula County and Mineral County.

While some nonprofits depend heavily on Giving Tuesday, others like the Missoula Community Foundation, 508 East Broadway, follows another fundraising strategy.

“We do not focus much on this Giving Tuesday beside a quick post on Social Media,” said Marcy Allen, MCF executive director. “Our focus is on Missoula Gives, our day of giving in the spring, which will be April 30 to May 1 this year. This year we hope to help area nonprofits raise over a one-half million dollars.”

The foundation’s mission is to inspire philanthropy, strengthen nonprofits and embrace a thriving, inclusive community. That means that Giving Tuesday is still very high on its list of priorities.

“We are, however, an advocate for all those nonprofits running Giving Tuesday events,” said Allen. “This type of funding is so crucial for nonprofits who need unrestricted operating dollars to fulfill their missions. The less time they have to spend writing grants and grant reports the more time they get to dedicate to the important work they do in our communities.”

So far, MCF has given away $50,000 this year to various nonprofits and helped raise $420,000 on its special Missoula Gives day.

Foundation funds “can also be used to build capacity in organizations for things like staff training, technology investments, employee retention, funding for communication and fundraising and other operating needs. It is always fun to support the big shiny project, but those projects need the organizational capacity to be successful,” added Allen. “Giving Tuesday can also be a way to acquire new donors for area nonprofits.”

Allen encourages individuals to give the gift of one’s time or money.

“You don’t have to give big; you can carry someone’s groceries to the car, give 5 dollars, or buy a coffee for the person behind you in line. Guess what? Giving feels good. If people have a passion area, we can help connect them with organizations doing work in that area.”

Furthermore, Allen said the process of donating has shifted with a new tax code.

“It is now more important to support your favorite non-profit as they adjust to this shift in giving,” she added.

The Giving Tuesday website reports that in the past seven years, the idea of giving to nonprofits has grown into a global movement that inspires “hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate and celebrate generosity.

A handy directory on the website contains lists of organizations, events and other ways for donors to give back in their local communities.

The website maintains a live, ongoing countdown of Giving Tuesday, plus a full real-time count of the amount of money raised online, the number of financial gifts from donors and the “mean” size of the gift.

Giving your time to a charity event, your voice of support, your dollars, much-needed goods to organizations or individuals, your talent and your kindness – it all counts.

Categories on the website include organization type, nonprofits, corporations, faith-based organizations, foundations, schools, small businesses and universities.

Contact Business Reporter Renata Birkenbuel at renatab@missoulacurrent.com and 406-565-0013.