What do a 13-year-old quadruple amputee from Weston, a rapper who owns a $13 million Miami Beach mansion and the CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami have in common?
They’re each soliciting charitable donations, from as little as $1, through crowdfunding websites.
In the competitive world of philanthropy, nonprofits are finding success by tapping into the communal wealth of online giving. Empowering donors to give as much or as little as they want, and to funnel their money to specific causes, is breaking down some of the intimidation factor associated with traditional giving, fundraisers say.
“There are many people out there who, given the right opportunity and the right platform, are eagerly engaged in philanthropy,” said Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of the Miami Foundation. “Miami is home to a young, diverse demographic that’s looking for ways to get involved, ways to improve our community that aren’t traditional, like a formal gala.”
Created in 1967 as the Dade Community Foundation, the Miami Foundation oversees more than $150 million in charitable assets, investing about $10 million each year in community projects. Since taking the helm of the foundation almost five years ago, Soto, 43, and his team have sought for innovative ways to encourage giving and community involvement from people of every socioeconomic background — a concept he calls “the democratization of giving.”
Last month, the Miami Foundation announced 15 winners of its Our Miami Public Space Challenge, a contest that prompted residents to submit ideas for improving neighborhood gathering places around Miami.
More than 250 people and organizations entered proposals online, and 15 will share a $120,000 prize from the Miami Foundation and the Health Foundation of South Florida to build their projects. Winning ideas included installing swing sets under a Metromover station downtown and adding artsy wooden benches to Little Havana.
On Nov. 20, the Miami Foundation will repeat its biggest new initiative: Give Miami Day.
Last year, in Give Miami Day’s inaugural effort, nearly 5,000 people from across the world donated more than $1.2 million to about 300 nonprofits in Miami-Dade County in a 24-hour period. Individual donations ranged from $25 to $10,000.
“We truly respect and value the $25 donors and strongly believe that the $25 Give Miami Day donors of today have the potential to be the endowment builders of tomorrow,” Soto said.
During Give Miami Day, people can direct money to a particular group or groups – more than 400 Miami-Dade nonprofits are participating this year – or they can give to a general fund that will be split among all participating charities.
In addition, the Miami Foundation will contribute matching gifts on a percentage basis. So, if Charity A receives 2 percent of all Give Miami Day donations, the foundation will give the charity 2 percent of its match pool.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami received $34,025 from 54 donors in last year’s Give Miami drive, the fourth-most of all participating nonprofits.
That money went directly into Habitat’s Building Fund, fueling the group’s commitment to build 164 homes in Liberty City. The organization is now five houses away from completing that goal, Habitat CEO Mario Artecona said.