What do selfies and contests have to do with helping human service agencies meet the critical needs of our community right now? Everything.
Give Local Bay – an annual 24-hour fundraising campaign on May 5 run by the Bay Area Community Foundation to raise money for Bay and Arenac county agencies – is more important this year than ever, said Foundation Communications Officer Kirsten Hellebuyck.
“Typically Give Local Bay is trying to build long-term sustainability so in times of crisis, (agencies) have the funds available to help,” Hellebuyck said. “This year, a lot of non-profits are experiencing hardships. They’ve had to cancel a lot of big events.”
Contests – such as who can take the best selfie or get the most donors in a set time period – help agencies earn prizes during the annual Give Local Bay effort. Many agencies who get funding from Give Local Bay are on the front lines of responding to the critical needs created by efforts to stop the virus from spreading. In previous years, Give Local Bay money went to agency endowment funds. During this year’s campaign, agencies can elect to use the money immediately, Hellebuyck said.
“This is normally their big day to focus on raising funds for the future. That might be a little different this year,” Hellebuyck said.
What hasn’t changed is the way Give Local Bay and its agencies try to make the fundraising effort a little more fun.
Here’s how it works. From midnight to midnight on May 5, donors are encouraged to donate through the Foundation to one of the partner agencies listed here. Throughout the 24 hours, the Foundation runs contests that generate matching funds for the agencies. Hellebuyck said Give Local Bay usually kicks off with an initial burst of activity from midnight until about 3 a.m. It picks up again around 6 a.m. and doesn’t end until the early hours of May 6.
It makes for a long day for the staff, but she still looks forward to the event. “It’s super fun,” she said.
Partner agencies don’t get just the dollars that are donated directly to them. The Foundation also has $25,000 in matching funds available. That money is split between partner agencies based on how much they raise. For example, if the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA brings in 10% of the total amount raised during Give Local Bay, then the agency gets 10% of the $25,000 in matching funds.
The agencies also can earn additional prize money from contests during the event. The list of prizes is on the Foundation website.
The Bay Area Women's Center hopes to take the top prize in three Give Local Bay prize contests on May 5.Lindsay Richardson, who is the director of development for the Bay Area Women’s Center, has set her sights on three prizes for the day. She’s strategizing her personal donations to make the most of those opportunities.
The first is for the agency that raises the most money between 9 and 11 a.m. May 5. Richardson plans to make her largest donation during that time. Next is a contest for getting the most unique donors between 6 and 8 p.m. Richardson plans to donate a smaller amount then. Finally, she plans to donate a third time during a Night Owl prize contest from 10 to 11:55 p.m.
In addition, she’s hoping the selfie contest is a bit different this year as people post from home. To enter, use the hashtag #GiveLocalBay2020, tag Bay Area Community Foundation, and send a Facebook message letting the Foundation know you posted. Make sure the post’s privacy settings are set to public. The winner will be drawn at 9 p.m. May 5. The winner then selects a Give Local Bay participating nonprofit to win the prize
“I look forward to Give Local Bay every year,” Richardson said. “I think it’s such a fun way to get everybody involved. It’s a lot of fun and we’re kind of competitive here in the office, so that drives us a little bit.”
At the end of the day, Richardson hopes to have done more than raise money. She hopes people learn about the role non-profits play in our community and how an endowment works. Learn more about endowments on the Foundation website.
“We don’t have a dollar goal,” Richardson said. “From our end, it’s more about getting people engaged.”
To see her results, keep an eye on the Women’s Center Facebook and Instagram social media accounts.
This year, the Foundation staff aren’t sure what to expect. “We don’t really have a clue as to what the climate is going to be like,” Hellebuyck said. “(Giving) has the potential to be more than normal, but it also has the potential to be lower than normal if people are feeling strained with other expenses.”
New this year is a COVID-19 Community Response Fund. Hellebuyck said the fund isn’t eligible for any of the prizes or matching funds, but the Foundation will be accepting donations during Give Local Bay.
Foundation President and CEO Diane Fong said COVID-19 illustrates how vital human service agencies are to the communities they serve.
“All of our nonprofits are vital to this community," Fong said. "We’re especially grateful for those serving on the frontlines during this pandemic. As we come out of it — and we will — we will gather with one another at community events, participate in arts and culture, enjoy and protect the environment, build homes, and preserve our history. Our local non-profit partners help us do that. Let’s come together to support them now, so they can continue helping our area be a thriving and vibrant place to live.”