(Editor’s note: This is a first in a series of articles highlighting Give Local Piedmont and nonprofit organizations that benefit from the fifth annual community giving project.)
It’s almost time to open up your wallets and checkbooks for Give Local Piedmont.
The fifth annual online giving effort, spearheaded by the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation, will be held Tuesday, May 1, 2018.
According to Jane Bowling-Wilson, Northern Piedmont Community Foundation executive director, 43 organizations that support Culpeper and multiple counties participated in 2017 and this year they have 148 nonprofits signed up for the project. They’ve raised $2.7 million for nonprofits in the first four years of Give Local Piedmont. The online giving campaign – www.givelocalpiedmont.org – supports nonprofits in Culpeper, Rappahannock, Fauquier and Madison counties.
“The whole goal of Give Local Piedmont, it was set up increase awareness about our charitable sector,” Bowling-Wilson said. “We hope to gain a few new donors. That was the premise, to bind the community together.”
The incentive to participate is that there is a $100,000 prize pool and $30,000 in prizes. Every nonprofit that participates receives a portion of the $100,000 pool.
“What the $100,000 does, is it says to the groups and donors is, ‘if you participate in this, your donation is multiplied because of the bonus,’” Bowling-Wilson said.
Some of the prizes are random and others are determined via unique donations – with categories for the smallest group and the largest group.
Last year, Give Local Piedmont raised $770,061. In 2016, it raised $883,000 and the response was so massive the system crashed. That led to the implementation of backups to make sure that the systems could handle the load of the donations.
“We’re a pretty small region to make three-quarters of a million dollars in one day, I think it’s fabulous” Bowling-Wilson said.
The goal of Give Local Piedmont, which kicks off at midnight on May 1, is to garner exposure for nonprofits and to stress that anyone can be a philanthropist. The minimum donation is $10 and many nonprofits help promote each other.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie around ‘let’s make this the best we can,’” Bowling-Wilson said. “A lot of the nonprofits have gotten smart about using this as a fundraising initiative.”
The NPCF offers training for nonprofits to discover how to better utilize the program, hosting workshops at the PATH Resource Center and in Culpeper. Bowling-Wilson said that nonprofits have learned over the years that they just can’t sign up and expect the money to start rolling in, that they have to “stir the pot,” as it were to help drum up support.
“The more effort you put in the better the results are,” Bowling-Wilson said.
Part of the lessons learned include maximizing their visibility by posting on social media. Give Local Piedmont is branching out this year as well, as they’ve in the past mostly used Facebook to promote the day of giving campaign. Now, thanks to help from the PATH Foundation, they will also have a presence on Instagram.
“I think it’s huge,” Bowling-Wilson said of the impact social media has had. “Five years ago when we started, everything we did included, ‘here’s how to use social media.’ It was still pretty new in terms of a tool. It is really the easiest and most efficient way of getting the word out.”
The NPCF encourages nonprofits to send in stories and images that they will then post.
What is a community foundation?
Community foundations are nothing new, they’ve been in the United States since 1916 and there are approximately 800 in America. In Virginia, there are 28 community foundations.
NPCF was founded in 2000 by a group of citizens from Rappahannock and Fauquier County who felt like they needed to put something in place to help foster growth among nonprofits and to help manage funds.
“What is common in a community foundation is that we represent a geographic footprint,” Bowling-Wilson said. “The other commonality is we cultivate philanthropic capital. We build charitable giving by working estate planners, lawyers, financial planners. The second part of our mission is to support our nonprofits.”
A question Bowling-Wilson is often asked is why use NPCF to invest money?
“We charge a fee for managing our funds, it’s a 1 percent fee on funds under management,” Bowling-Wilson said. “One of the things we bring to the table is knowledge of the communities and where the gaps are and how we can help.”
They manage funds for corporations, families, scholarship funds and unrestricted endowments. They take the returns from those funds and redistribute them in the community.
“A lot of our support comes from the community,” Bowling-Wilson said. “Battlefield (Culpeper) is just fabulous. They joined us last year. They were the first Culpeper business to join.”
She mentioned the Culpeper Foundation Fund as one they manage. A fund that has been around for about 30 years, it generates between $10,000 to $15,000 per year that is then awarded back out to the community.
“Right now we are managing a community grant of $250,000 for the PATH Foundation that’s called the community assistance grant,” Bowling-Wilson said. “That’s just for emergency situations. That’s open to Culpeper.”
There are committees that review all funds and where they will be distributed. The board consists of 14 members from four counties. There are four chairpersons – Andrew Gayheart (Culpeper), Jeffrey C. Early (Madison), Hiliary Scheer Gerhart (Fauquier) and Valerie Goossens (Madison) – that lead the organization. They serve one to three year appointments that are renewable up to six years.
Where the money goes
In the past two years, Culpeper County nonprofits have seen $228,499 raised through Give Local Piedmont, with $104,842 raised through donor grants and another $154,590 through community grants. The two year total of $498,931 includes $11,000 in scholarships.
Rappahannock’s two-year total of $712,148 includes $397,638 from Give Local Piedmont. Madison has a two-year total of $74,616 with $62,290 raised for nonprofits through the giving campaign. Fauquier nonprofits have received the most support with a two-year total of $2,057,045, with $965,155 raised through Give Local Piedmont.
Bowling-Wilson said there a multitude of success stories – including Madison Literacy Council and the Education Foundation in Rappahannock – but locally in 2017 Legal Aid Works raised the most money in Culpeper County with $7,628. Hospice of the Piedmont generated $7,432, Culpeper Air Fest received $7,428 in donations and Free Clinic of Culpeper was gifted $5,572 on Give Local Piedmont day.
“It really seems to come down to having your board work with you,” Bowling-Wilson said. “Some of the groups have dinners and invite their whole board.”
One of the features introduced last year allowed people to schedule their giving a week ahead of time, in case they were traveling. Now, that has been increased to include a two-week window.
To learn more about the nonprofits participating and to be ready to give May 1, visit www. givelocalpiedmont.org.