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Fairfield County's Giving Day Brings Out The Philanthropist In All Of Us

Fairfield County's Community Foundation

On March 1, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation will host 24 hours of marathon fundraising. It’s called Giving Day and it’s an intensive effort by the Foundation to connect local non-profits with local donors. 

WSHU’s All Things Considered Host Bill Buchner recently spoke with Juanita James, CEO and president of the Foundation, to learn more about Giving Day. 

Below is a transcript of their conversation.

Juanita, could you explain Giving Day, how it works?

Giving Day is 24 hours of online giving to local non-profits that have registered for Giving Day with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. The way it works is you would go onto our site: fcgives.org, and make a donation to any of the 437 non-profits that have registered for Giving Day this year. 

And a contribution for as little as $10. That’s the minimum. It’s all done by credit card. And the whole point of it is to connect donors with all of the local charities and non-profits that are doing really good work right here in Fairfield County.

Now last year you raised almost $1.5 million for different programs. That was an 18 percent increase from 2016. How’d you do that?

First of all we get the non-profits themselves excited about promoting their message, and their cause, and their work to their donors and communities. So we train them on how to use social media, create marketing campaigns, and we, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, does a lot of promotion and marketing on behalf of the entire non-profit community. So we have ads in magazines, we have wonderful media sponsors, we even have a gigantic billboard up on I-95 near Bridgeport advertising Giving Day.  

Given the current economic climate and the change in the tax code for charitable giving, do you expect to repeat or surpass this level of giving?

I am hoping we will surpass the level of giving and here’s why. Last year we had 13,000 individual donors log on, and I think that there’s such an awareness of the great work that the non-profits are doing. And we have such a breadth of non-profits represented, from arts to human services, to animals, they always get a lot of popularity, to education programs, women and girls. The full broad range of things. And their donors and the people who benefit from them really appreciate the work they do. Everyone is aware of the state budget cuts and how much it’s impacting our non-profit segment. So I believe people will be generous and think, here’s another way we can help these non-profits do the good work they do.       

Which programs, have you noticed, tend to attract the most donors?

The ones that really reach out most. We have a couple of theater groups. Curtain Call has won a number of years in a row. They start promoting Giving Day very early. They go to their audiences every night they have a show. And the people who do the most reach out and the most creative kind of posts on their own social media and email campaigns are the ones that do the best.

Why is Giving Day important for your Foundation?   

We do our work through the non-profit sector. And Giving Day is a way to amplify the voice and the visibility for the non-profits. But more importantly, we’re also about promoting philanthropy. And Giving Day is a way to say you don’t have to be wealthy to be a philanthropist. You don’t have to be wealthy to make a difference. And you can pool thousands of small donations and create a huge impact.  

How can this event help support and advance the work of non-profits in the future?

I believe in two ways. Number one, fundraising is something every non-profit has to do. And learning how to do it through various media, through social media is a very important piece of the work. And I think it helps them to hone their message. And to understand what captures people’s imagination. How do they tell their story about the work they do and the good they’re doing and the outcomes they’re getting in a very crisp and enticing way. So I think it helps them overall build their own relationship capability with their customers and their donors.         

Bill began his radio journey on Long Island, followed by stops in Schenectady, Bridgeport, Boston and New York City. He’s glad to be back on the air in Fairfield County, where he has lived with his wife and two sons for more than 20 years.