Giving Tuesday fundraising successful for local nonprofits

  • Hilltown Youth and Recovery Theater participants perform on aerial silks in August 2019. Director Jonathan Diamond said the Shelburne Falls group raised $2,000 on Giving Tuesday, with many donations arriving Wednesday afternoon. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Seeds of Solidarity Education Center co-founder Deb Habib, with husband Ricky Baruc, was thrilled to learn Wednesday morning that her nonprofit had raised $4,000 on Giving Tuesday. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/4/2020 4:53:14 PM
Modified: 12/4/2020 4:53:02 PM

Seeds of Solidarity Education Center co-founder Deb Habib was thrilled when she learned Wednesday morning that her nonprofit had raised $4,000 the day before on Giving Tuesday.

“We’re in the middle of our annual appeal, so this is just part of it,” Habib said. “We’re hoping to raise a total of $25,000, so this was welcomed.”

Giving Tuesday, the cyber-based donation platform for making contributions to nonprofits, is an international contribution platform founded in 2012 that numerous Franklin County and North Quabbin organizations use to augment their fundraising efforts.

Habib said the education center in Orange sent letters to 1,000 people and an email to another 2,000 in October and November to kick off its annual appeal, so she expects some of those donors decided to contribute on Giving Tuesday.

“We work to promote nourishing food to people and educate people about growing food, wellness and climate resilience,” she explained. “We were thrilled to see we could count on people on Tuesday, but we know we can count on them all year.”

Like Giving Tuesday, Habib said, Seeds of Solidarity Education Center cultivates a community of people who feel connected to its work. She said it isn’t just about giving one day a year, but about feeling like you’re part of something. She said the money will go to education programs and operational needs, wherever it is needed the most.

Susan Samoriski, outgoing executive director of Mary Lyon Foundation in Shelburne Falls, said she didn’t know the exact amount the nonprofit raised on Tuesday, but it was close to $1,000.

“Every penny helps,” she said. “We’re thrilled so many people donated.”

Samoriski said the money will support some of the nonprofit’s programs.

“We have a COVID relief fund, for instance, that helps teachers and students and their families to teach and learn remotely,” she said. “We’ve been helping kids and their families who don’t have WiFi connect so parents don’t have to drive to hotspots.”

Hilltown Youth and Recovery Theatre Director Jonathan Diamond said the Shelburne Falls group raised $2,000 on Giving Tuesday, but many donations were still arriving Wednesday afternoon.

“Not everyone hits ‘submit’ on the actual day, and others prefer to do business the old fashioned way and send a check,” Diamond noted.

The theater group just became a free-standing nonprofit in March as the pandemic hit. Before that, it was fiscally sponsored.

“We sent an email to our supporters (this year), but we hope to approach Giving Tuesday more strategically in the future,” Diamond said. “The gift I was most touched by was $25 from a young person who participated in one of our online what we call “lantern light trainings,” a space where recovery participants come to move with each other from across distance and write clear and hard about what hurts.”

That young woman had been coping with depression and a legal crisis arising from her drug abuse. Her older sister, whom Diamond met at a training, recommended she try the Hilltown Youth program and she described it as a “godsend.”

Diamond said Hilltown Youth will use the donations from Giving Tuesday to help launch an in-person, physically distanced outdoor traveling winter spectacle.

Judith Roberts, executive director of The Literacy Project in Greenfield, said donations are still coming in, so the nonprofit doesn’t yet know how much it raised, but will use the money to cover the increased costs of having to go remote with all its classes.

“Teachers need more technological equipment to teach Zoom classes,” she said. “National data shows that students are able to keep up with reading and writing classes online, but are falling behind in online math classes.”

The Literacy Project, which usually offers classes in Greenfield, Orange, Northampton, Amherst and Ware, will purchase iPads with styluses for teachers to teach math online.

“The outpouring from the community has been heartening,” Roberts said.

On the other hand, some local nonprofits opted to forego Giving Tuesday this year.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County’s Development Director Ericka Almeida said the organization decided not to participate in Giving Tuesday because it just came off a “successful” fundraising campaign and decided not to ask people for more. The nonprofit is also one of the recipients benefiting from proceeds at the Light Up the Fairgrounds event in Greenfield.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter in Turners Falls, also one of the three beneficiaries of the Light Up the Fairgrounds fundraiser, also decided not to participate.

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