AP NEWS

Bill Tommins and Juanita T. James Uniting around shared values on Giving Day

February 22, 2019

We’ve come a long way since the inaugural Fairfield County Giving Day in 2014. The effort began as a partnership between Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and Bank of America. In just six short years nearly $6 million has been raised for critical nonprofit organizations around the region. A $10 donation combined with many other $10 donations truly can add up to millions of dollars and have a significant impact.

When Giving Day launched, the ultimate goal was to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors. Today, it has become nothing short of a miracle for the hundreds of organizations that benefit, not only from the incredible resource that are raised, but from the increased awareness of the services they provide and the residents they serve. Through Giving Day, we have been able to encourage the generous spirit of our community to support the needs of our neighbors while helping us all realize that together we truly can make a difference.

Now, we are at a crossroads as we focus on the true meaning of giving. How can we extend this level of excitement and foster the spirit of giving not only on Giving Day but throughout the year.

As we reflect on this simple concept of a 24-hour online marathon of donors who have benefited more than 745 nonprofits to date, we begin to understand how we have begun to change the landscape of philanthropy in Fairfield County.

We have learned about a plethora of nonprofits serving the greater Fairfield County region and you have made it known that this is a community that cares deeply about its neighbors and their well-being.

The top five categories by dollars raised on Giving Day 2018 were: arts and culture; education; youth development; human services and animal related causes. Your generosity has been remarkable! Last year alone marked an 85-percent increase in donations from Giving Day’s inception in 2014. In just 24 hours, more than $1.4 million was raised for 416 nonprofits with 16,593 total gifts from 13,137 individual donors.

We’ve learned through this process that a little competition is a good thing. This year as nonprofit organizations vie for over $100,000 in prizes for the most unique donors or the largest amount of money raises, we’ve added a new and exciting twist- the best video — a contest instituted this year as part of the Why I Give campaign. These videos allow individuals to put a face to their giving and, perhaps more importantly, share their stories.

So, let us ask you to ponder that very question: Why do you give? Is it a specific cause that touches your heart, a medical or mental health concern that impacted your family, knowing a child who grew and flourished under the guidance of a theater, dance or music program? Is it your concern that a senior or disabled neighbor might need a hand, or a friend who recently lost their job and may need food or clothing? Is it caring about climate and its impact on our four-legged friends or maybe the environment or a veteran who needs a helping hand?

Ask yourself the question Why Do I Give? For some inspiration, visit fcgives.org and check out the 400-plus nonprofit organizations that have registered this year. Each one has a mission to improve our community in some impactful and meaningful manner. Their stories are shared on the website so you can learn more about the organization and its impact right here in Fairfield County.

If you have never participated, you — and all our community of donors — are invited to join us again for another powerful day of local philanthropy for the sixth Fairfield County’s Giving Day on Feb. 28. On Giving Day, every gift makes a difference, no matter its size. We now know how $10 or $20, when pooled with other donations, grows exponentially.

Businesses that are boosting the excitement and have joined us as our sponsors this year include Newman’s Own Foundation; Stop & Shop; The Jeniam Foundation; Neuberger Berman; Webster Private Bank; Day Pitney LLP; First County Bank and Insperity. Their dedication to this community needs to be recognized.

The newspaper, radio, television, online and even billboard advertising you see and hear for Giving Day creating awareness, support for the nonprofit community and encouraging donations is all made possible through the kindness and generosity of the local media community including Giving Day’s Media Partner Hearst Connecticut Media Group; Premiere Regional Magazine Sponsor Moffly Media; and Star 99; 95.9 the Fox; News12 Connecticut and Barrett Outdoor. Also, many thanks to our event sponsors The Klein Memorial Auditorium, Source Coffeehouse and Ratatouille and Company.

Philanthropy is a powerful force for change. It brings people together, and allows us to bridge our differences while helping others. So on Giving Day, we challenge you to make a difference here in Fairfield County and ask you to consider Why I Give?

Bill Tommins is the Southern Connecticut Market President, Bank of America and Juanita T. James is president & CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.