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Giving Days: Bringing Strength and Awareness to Communities

Each year, spring heralds giving day events around the country. While community events come in all shapes and sizes, the giving day model is an effective way to educate and engage the public around area nonprofits, build fundraising capacity, and increase the number of dollars and donors crucial to their sustainability. Giving days are unique because they create a sense of urgency around giving and a chance for nonprofits to reach their donors in a different way. Even in the pandemic, Giving Days remained a successful community event.

This success was not immediately predictable. In 2020, when giving days needed to become fully remote, those planning events faced the choice to cancel everything or make the leap to a completely virtual event. Our community foundation clients who chose to go fully virtual have shared that they found unexpected benefits. These included reduced costs associated with in-person events, fewer volunteers to manage making day-of logistics easier, and simplified messaging of directing donors to one location—a website.

Overall, we’ve heard stories about Foundations being overwhelmed by the generosity of their community when they moved their initiative fully online. This was true of both donors and nonprofits—with participating organizations providing an outpouring of online content to support the effort. The consensus has been that combining live streamed content with live events was so successful, it will become the model moving forward.   

Continuing to iterate on Give Big days honors the role they have come to play in the bigger picture of convening by Community Foundations.  

Give Big Gallatin Valley, an initiative of our local One Valley Community Foundation, celebrates our nonprofit sector. Participation in the event contributes to an overwhelming sense of pride and belonging, as the responsiveness of the community demonstrates each person can make a difference. The spirit of generosity is contagious and giving on this day allows anyone to become a philanthropist! Giving days work best when individuals in the community encourage those they know to give in turn and when donors make it an exciting “game” using prizes and challenges.  

Year after year, Give Big is profoundly affecting how community members engage with local causes. The event raises awareness about the opportunities and issues the community faces. By coming together on one day, the community can leverage its resources to promote the good work the nonprofit sector is doing.  

“Give Big inspires thousands of community members to come together in one day to celebrate our local nonprofit sector. Prior to Give Big, there was no initiative that brought local nonprofit leaders together toward the same goal. Now, Give Big is the largest giving day in the state. I believe that success is due in large part to our dedicated nonprofits who deeply believe in collaboration and that a rising tide lifts all boats,” 

- Bridget Wilkinson, Executive Director of the One Valley Community Foundation

Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing critical services to a large variety of people and often fill gaps where business and government sectors cannot serve. Give Big, along with other nonprofit training and support from our community foundation, has grown the collective strength of our area nonprofits. According to Erica Coyle, Executive Director of HAVEN, “Years ago, our nonprofit sector wasn't the cohesive group it is today. The work of the Bozeman Area Community Foundation, including Give Big, has helped change that. It has brought us all together to collaborate and support one another's work.” 

Participating nonprofits represent every sector from the arts to housing, disability services, education, and the care of animals. Since the contributions on this day are unrestricted, nonprofits can use the dollars at their discretion, helping to establish, grow, and expand programs and pay for critical operating needs. Giving day programming and training supports, equips, and serves the local nonprofit community through free workshops and tools that can be used to fundraise year-round.  

One might think the most sophisticated nonprofits have the most success, but we have witnessed many smaller grassroots groups that do an incredible job rallying donors behind their causes. It takes a lot of work to get a nonprofit off the ground, receive seed money or funding, and to begin to serve. In our community, it has been wonderful to see Give Big has helped introduce, launch, and educate the community on newer nonprofits and the good they are doing. 

The publicity and celebratory feel of these events continue to draw members of the community who might not normally engage to get involved for their favorite causes. Participation is emphasized over the dollar value of the gift. 

When thousands of people come together for the greater good, transformative thinking and actions begin to happen. Give Big has added exponential value by inspiring people to come together with one voice to show their pride in the community, to support the life-changing work of nonprofit organizations, and to enjoy a better quality of life.

About the Author

As a certified SAFe Agile Scrum Master and SAFe Program Consultant, Nicole coaches three internal teams at Foundant. As a Scrum Master, she is a servant leader who facilitates teams to self-organize and work cross-functionally to meet their delivery goals. She also educates the team in Scrum processes and the SAFe framework. Her role assists the teams in creating high value products and services, identifying and eliminating impediments, and fostering an environment for high-performing team dynamics, continuous flow, and relentless improvement. Nicole has volunteered in philanthropy for several decades, investing in people, projects, and communities to make our world a better place. She has also served on the Board of Directors for both the Greater South Fork Community Foundation and the Bozeman Area Community Foundation. Nicole loves to be outdoors as much as she can; gardening, hiking, cross-country skiing or just enjoying the sunshine.

Profile Photo of Nicole Ziegler