Throughout a 52-week year, Mary Holmes and her team from the Cumberland Community Foundation engage with the generous with a simple goal in mind.
To enhance the quality of life in every corner of the county.
“All year long, we meet with donors to help them create endowments to support any cause that they want to support,” says Holmes, the Foundation’s president and CEO.
That might include people who want to support a single charity or nonprofit with a small or large donation, or have sold a business or piece of real estate and want to offset capital gains taxes through the giving of a major gift.
“We help donors create their legacy. That’s what we do.
The intensity of GivingTuesday
GivingTuesday, though, is, as Holmes puts it, “sort of a different project for us” — a whole lot of gifts in a very short period of time.
A 10-day period, in fact. In the span of a long year, those 10 days become significant: the Foundation received 5,303 gifts in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, but about 2,700 of them were made during last year’s GivingTuesday.
This year’s GivingTuesday window closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
“Giving Tuesday is a very intense effort to raise general support for local charities,” Holmes said. “And so it's good that we have that many gifts because that means that these charities — we're helping 79 charities this year — are doing a really good job reaching out to their donors. We've helped them raise money that they would not have raised otherwise.”
GivingTuesday didn’t originate here. It’s a global day of generosity — observed through monetary gifts, donations of time and talents or other ways of serving — celebrated on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It’s a time to thank, share and show kindness, and those 79 which participate (they’ve met a set of criteria established by the Foundation) become benefactors of the community at large and the Foundation’s organizational support.
About 40% of charities supported in the GivingTuesday campaign report getting gifts from first-time donors in that short window, and Holmes said many of those 79 report an increase in gifts from existing donors.
“So the donors they knew give more, and the donors that they didn't know, their new donors, learn about their mission and start to support them,” she said.
It’s a huge effort on the part of the Foundation, but more importantly it’s a worthwhile way to focus on doing good in Cumberland County: to help children who are victims of violence, to feed the homeless, to help food pantries and utility assistance programs, the arts and many others which impact the quality of life here.
“It’s wonderful,” Holmes said, “that people are responding and giving.”
A more generous place
She cited a study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy that calculates a “generosity index” of people within communities. Fayetteville’s measurement was more than twice as high as Wilmington’s and fully 50% higher than Raleigh’s. People here, she said, weren’t necessarily wealthier, but more generous, contributing a higher portion of their income and wealth to the types of organizations the Foundation supports — such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cumberland County, The Phoenix Center, the Special Olympics of Cumberland County, Falcon Children’s Home, and Crime Stoppers among them.
Despite that, many nonprofits based in the area are living, Holmes said, “hand to mouth.” The dearth of major corporations and other large foundations in Cumberland, she added, necessitates reliance upon people of all financial means. Hence the strong focus on GivingTuesday, a concentrated effort involving all 79 participating organizations which, jointly in a collaborative effort, reach out to supporters and other constituents within the community with a message breaking down their respective financial needs — and, through a single online catalog, make it easy to contribute donations.
A GivingTuesday guide — Holmes credits CityView’s Tony Chavonne with the idea to publish and distribute it — provides snapshots of each of those 79 organizations. And each year, the nonprofits participating in GivingTuesday here take part in training offered by the Foundation focusing on outreach. Each is provided with a “toolkit” to help them share their respective messages with donors and prospects. That intense period of messaging casts what Holmes calls “a pretty wide net.” And that means overlap — different organizations reaching out to the same people — but that’s part of the point: it spreads the message about GivingTuesday and emphasizes both the need in Cumberland County and the ease of meeting that need with a gift.
Leveraging a match
Adding vigor to GivingTuesday is matching funds. The first GivingTuesday campaign in 2020 was accompanied by the offer of a $100,000 match by a donor. It was such a generous gift, Holmes thought, the Foundation wouldn’t be able to take advantage of it.
She was wrong.
“Halfway through the second day, the $100,000 match had been used up,” Holmes said.
“And thankfully, the family of Eleanor Manning said they would give us another $100,000. So by giving us a second $100,000, and then the Foundation adding another $100,000, we had $300,000 in matching funds.”
The total amount raised that first year, including the match, was $1.2 million. GivingTuesday’s funding has grown from there: $1.8 million in 2021 and $2.4 million last year. The matching funds for this year’s campaign total $550,000. Donors including Will Gillis, Elizabeth "Beth" Keeney, Daphne and Ray Manning, Carol and Sammy Short, the Fayetteville New Car Dealers Association and Healy Wholesale made the match possible.
The Foundation matches gifts made during GivingTuesday up to $5,000, effectively amplifying all contributions. For 2022, Holmes said the Foundation calculated that a donation of $100 became a $141 gift, thanks to the matching funds.
The match makes giving “a bargain” for donors, according to Holmes.
“The donor experience has been enhanced,” she said. “And also, frankly, if you have limited resources to give to charity and you know that your gift is going to be matched somewhat, then GivingTuesday gives a good option to amplify that gift.”
The result, Holmes said, should be trust and confidence for donors — engendering even more support for the Foundation, for GivingTuesday and for the community as a whole.
“We've proven that the match is real, and we do a good job processing the gifts, and we give them a complete and thorough list of all the details of the gifts that donors directed to them,” she said of the participating nonprofits, which include the CityView News Fund, which supports CityView’s reporting. “So I feel like building the trust of the nonprofits from our operational capacity has really helped them get fully engaged in reaching out to their donors. And we've done a lot of training for the nonprofits, teaching them how to thank donors and steward donors and tell them how their money was used.”
Contact Bill Horner III at firstname.lastname@example.org.