Starting at 6 a.m. on Sept. 22, North Texans will support thousands of their favorite nonprofit organizations on North Texas Giving Day.
Communities Foundation of Texas created North Texas Giving Day in 2009 and since that founding event, North Texans have contributed $119 million during the annual one day giving spree.
It is the largest community giving day in the nation surpassing Colorado Gives, the second largest giving day, by $5 million. 2015’s North Texas Giving Day was overwhelmingly successful, raising $33 million through 118,000 gifts benefiting 2,020 nonprofits.
This year, Dallas and Tarrant Counties, two of the counties participating in North Texas Giving Day, hope to inspire more giving and forge bonds between North Texans and their nonprofit sector.
Dallas County has significant bragging rights: 1,066 nonprofits received 71,552 gifts totaling $20,628,014 on North Texas Giving Day in 2015. Susan Swan Smith, the chief relationship officer at the Communities Foundation of North Texas, is impressed, but not surprised.
“Dallas County has a long history of being generous with lots entrepreneurs and a strong track record of public-private partnerships. There’s a powerful network of generosity and many nonprofits doing great work,” Smith said.
When considering the results from 2014 when 868 nonprofits received 60,000 gifts totaling $16,865,000, Smith understands why there is such a significant increase as more nonprofit decide to participate in North Texas Giving Day.
A wave of social service-related nonprofits joined North Texas Giving Day in 2014. In 2015, nonprofits that focus on the animal kingdom worked with North Texas Giving Day for the first time. Arts organizations have been steadily joining North Texas Giving Day for the last seven years.
This year, Smith has noticed more youth related nonprofits are making their North Texas Giving Day debut. Smith also notes the average size of the gift, $288 in Dallas County and $216 in Tarrant County in 2015, is decreasing.
“That’s good. We want everyone feel like they can give, whether it is a large or small gift,” she explained.
Tarrant County is a smaller but equally effective powerhouse of generosity. 457 nonprofits received 23,256 gifts totaling $5,031,000. Nancy Jones, the CEO of North Texas Community Foundation, commends Tarrant County for its can-do attitude.
“There’s a unique spirit of Fort Worth doing things for themselves. If they don’t do it, no one else will. You can feel a sense of responsibility to the community. Plus, North Texas Giving Day is easy and straight forward. With the bonus funds, it is also a great deal,” Jones said.
Jones explained donors are increasingly savvy and they want to know how their funds are going to be used. Donors also recognize that nonprofits need support for their operations, not just their programs.
With each year, more Tarrant County citizens are contributing on North Texas Giving Day. In 2014, 370 nonprofits received 19,250 gifts totaling $3,946,000. Jones also recognizes the appeal of donating online to a younger generation and hopes North Texas Giving Day is the beginning of a philanthropic habit.
“We want a new group of donors to get involved. We want people to think of philanthropy during their lifetime, but also consider how to build assets for the future of the community when they die,” Jones said.
Both Smith and Jones marvel at the progress of North Texas Giving Day since its inception seven years ago.
“Most nonprofits didn’t focus on online giving. Now, they have gotten better at using the web for fundraising,” Jones said.
Donors have learned the ease of giving online. 37 percent of the donors are first time North Texas Giving Day participants.
“Larger nonprofits draw people to the North Texas Giving Day web site and then they discover other organizations they want to support. The site saves donor information. That makes it easy for donors to give to multiple nonprofits,” Swan explained.
Nonprofits have become very creative when it comes to advertising their participation in North Texas Giving Day as social media has risen in influence. Many nonprofits put together videos, memes, and hashtags to attract attention to their cause.
Gifts over $25 are amplified by bonus funds raised by North Texas Giving Day, but many nonprofits are also learning to raise their own challenge funds to incentivize giving. Nonprofits learn from each other about what works and have become more sophisticated about developing a relationship with individual donors throughout the year. The subtle shifts in their efforts reflect the importance of individual giving.
“The majority of nonprofits receive a majority of their support through individual gifts. The more individuals in their giving club, the more sustainable their work is,” Jones said. Swan couldn’t agree more. “Having a broad base of donors means people know your mission, your work and your passion,” Swan said.
Both counties are throwing giving parties to celebrate North Texas Giving Day.
NorthPark Center will host the Dallas donation station and third annual KidsGive presented by DFWChild from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on September 22. Children ages five to nine will have an opportunity to try some hands-on philanthropic activities including painting garden plagues and flower pots with Agape Resource & Assistance Center, making shelter-dog toys with Canine Companions for Independence, and create paper flower bouquets for senior citizens with Nasher Sculpture Center.
Several arts organizations will perform including Lone Star Wind Orchestra, Shakespeare Dallas, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, Junior Players, Texas Boys Choir, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts Dance Company, Dallas Children’s Theater, and Dallas Black Dance Theatre.
Sundance Square in Fort Worth is where donors can find Fort Worth’s donation station and Philanthrop-Party: A Pep Rally Celebrating Partnerships, Philanthropy and Progress from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on September 22. Tarrant County arts organizations including Fort Worth Youth Orchestra, Kids Who Care, Texas Ballet Theatre, Stage West, Fort Worth Opera, Guitar Fort Worth, Ballet Folklorico de Azteca, and Fort Worth Chorale will provide music and entertainment. Vocal Trash, a group described as “Glee meets Stomp”, is the headline performance.
With strong economies in Dallas and Tarrant Counties, Smith and Jones believe this year’s North Texas Giving Day will be the most successful yet.
Jones hopes Tarrant County donations will reach $6 million this year and Smith predicts the day will be bigger and better than ever in Dallas County.
When the giving ends at midnight on September 22, North Texans will have proven their generosity again.
More: North Texas Giving Day
Kimberly Richard is a North Texan with a passion for the arts. She’s worked with Theatre Three, Inc. and interned for the English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company. She graduated from Austin College and currently lives in Garland with her very pampered cocker spaniel, Tessa.