It’s the season to be giving, and Wednesday offers a unique opportunity for those who want to donate to a South Florida based-charity.
It’s Give Miami Day — a 24-hour period during which donations can be made to a variety of nonprofits via a dedicated website. The gifts will be matched in part by The Miami Foundation, which has pledged at least $100,000 to the effort.
Visitors to GiveMiamiDay.org will be able to browse profiles of more than 300 Miami-Dade nonprofits. The extensive directory allows searches by charity name, category (education or health, for example) or who it benefits (military veterans is one option, single parents is another).
Once you get to an individual charity’s profile page, there’s a wealth of information to including mission statement, specific programs offered and a biography of the executive director or CEO. It’s a matchmaking experience that’s not unlike one of those online dating sites, except here it connects generosity with people in need.
“It was a good way to capture all this information,” said Miami Foundation President Javier Alberto Soto. “First, we want to shine a spotlight on the important work that’s being done ... and, secondly, we want people to be able to search for areas that they have a passion for.”
Much of the matching money for the event has been donated by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Miami isn’t the first city to host its own 24-hour online donation drive. Pittsburgh, for example, launched a similar event in 2009, and has enjoyed considerable success. The 2012 installment of PittsburghGives, in October, raised more than $8.5 million, with donations flowing in at the rate of more than $98 per second.
Soto has not set a specific fundraising goal for Miami’s first 24-hour online donation drive.
“We just want to create the buzz, create the excitement,” he said.
On a national level, this year’s “Cyber Monday” was followed by “Giving Tuesday” — a day when more than 2,500 charities across the country held social-media and cyber-giving drives to raise money. Is this the future of charity fundraising?
Fordham University professor Allan Luks, director of the college’s Center for Nonprofit Leaders, said such efforts can successfully attract donors, but it’s important for charities to get those who open up their wallets to also sign on as in-person volunteers.
“People who help others, research has long established, are far more likely to become ongoing financial givers,” Luks said.
For Daniella Levine, CEO of the Catalyst Miami nonprofit, Give Miami Day is a great opportunity to create awareness — as well as walk around the office in pajamas. Levine’s charity is organizing an office “slumber party” during the 24-hour event, which will feature a live online video stream and updates via Twitter and Facebook.
Levine’s charity, which provides a variety of social services and also trains the leaders of other nonprofits, was formerly known as the Human Services Coalition. Participating in Give Miami Day, Levine said, should help get the word out that it is still active in the community — just under a different title.
“I’m not thinking it’s going to be a huge amount of money,” Levine said. “It’s really, for us, probably more of a friend-raiser.”
The potential exists, though, for Catalyst to have a healthy haul. An anonymous donor has already stepped up and promised a dollar-for-dollar match for any donations given to Catalyst on Give Miami Day. Those matching funds would be on top of the matching dollars available through the Miami Foundation.
“There’s something for all of us to do on this day,” Levine said. “Find something we really care about, and invest in it.”