Alabama nonprofits looking for residents in a giving mood today
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Dec 02, 2013 | 3277 views |  0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A simple gesture at a Salvation Army collection point in Anniston represents the contributory spirit Giving Tuesday tries to cultivate. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
A simple gesture at a Salvation Army collection point in Anniston represents the contributory spirit Giving Tuesday tries to cultivate. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
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Local nonprofits hope residents who haven’t maxed out their credit cards on Christmas holiday shopping will give a little for charity today.

To combat the growing trend of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday ramping up consumer spending right after Thanksgiving, the New York-based group 92nd Street Y created Giving Tuesday to encourage donating time and money for charity.

“They had this great quote that was, 'we have three days to help the economy, now let’s have one day to help the soul',” said Allison Wise, the chief development officer for Camp Fire Alabama, a non-profit organization focused on youth development partnering in this year’s Giving Tuesday. “I just thought it was a wonderful idea.”

Today marks just the second year of the event, but Giving Tuesday proved to be a huge success in its first year in 2012, according to the movement’s website. More than 2,500 nonprofits across the country participated last year, receiving millions of dollars in online donations.

Although a new endeavor at the national level, the Alabama Association of NonProfits tried a similar strategy in 2011 called Alabama Gives Day. According to the association’s executive officer, Billy Baxter, the event had lots of participation, but the money didn’t pour in the way most members had hoped.

“I just don’t think the technology was there,” Baxter said about the lack of support for the day. “It’s not off the table, though, that we would do it again in the future.”

In the meantime, Baxter said, the association is happy to share information about Giving Tuesday with its members, which has helped fill the void for nonprofits like Birmingham-based Hand in Paw, which trains therapy dogs to go into schools, hospitals and nursing homes. Paige Staylor, the nonprofit’s director of marketing, said the group heard about the national campaign by word-of-mouth.

“There was actually another nonprofit group that emailed us about donations for Giving Tuesday,” Staylor said. “So we knew all about it when it came around this year.”

In order to be a partner with the movement, organizations must be a 501(c) nonprofit, or a for-profit group committed to benefiting a nonprofit charity.

Several Alabama organizations have partnered with the movement this year, including the Autism Society of Alabama, Lifeline Children’s Services, various school districts and local chapters of the Salvation Army. While many are simply asking supporters to make donations on this day, some are taking a more creative approach to raising money. Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center in Birmingham is selling pecans to help raise money for autism research. Staylor said Hand in Paw has posted videos and photos throughout November to spread the word, and if the group raises $2,500 today before noon, executive director Laura Cardwell will do cartwheels in the front yard of the facility and the videos will be posted on the group’s website.

For other local groups, Dec. 3 coincides with annual holiday donation and charity efforts. Capt. Bert Lind of the Calhoun County chapter of the Salvation Army said December is typically when the group raises the most money, kicking off holiday fundraising after Thanksgiving.

“This year we have a shortened holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Lind said. “So there’s less paychecks, people have a little less to spend.”

According to Giving Tuesday’s website, the main way for the word to spread about the event is through social media sites, and it encourages partners to use Twitter and Facebook to share their contributions. Wise, of Camp Fire Alabama, said the technological aspect of the campaign makes her optimistic that Giving Tuesday will continue to grow.

“This is a great way to come together as a global and online community,” Wise said. “Even just a few years ago we wouldn’t have been able to do something like this.”

Visit the charity’s website, givingtuesday.org

Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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