With a few clicks, North Texans can help the nonprofit sector navigate the increasing demands of the ongoing pandemic. North Texas Giving Day, an online giving campaign supporting more than 3,350 nonprofit organizations, is September 23.
“There have been so many different pivots that different organizations have had to reimagine the way that they do their work.” Chris McSwain, Director of Community Engagement, North Texas Giving Day, Communities Foundation of Texas, said. “The demand is still great, and I don’t think it will get back to ‘normal’ anytime soon.”
Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) organizes North Texas Giving Day. Last year, the online giving campaign raised $58.8 million for more than 3,200 nonprofits. “I am really overwhelmed about how people show up for each other,” McSwain said.
To help nonprofits prepare for this year’s campaign, McSwain is encouraging organizations to be strategic about how the day with work for them. Nonprofits can recruit volunteers as well as raise money. Engaging supporters by raising awareness of their story is critical. “In that storytelling component, authenticity is key,” McSwain said.
For Crossroads Community Services, food insecurity is at the heart of its story. “At this point, we are continuing to see that our families still need food,” Benaye Rogers, President and CEO of Crossroads Community Services, said. “With the rise of variants, with the decrease in benefits through unemployment and some of the stimulus, we’re seeing those numbers increase weekly by up to 10-15%.”
Rogers anticipates the increased need will continue through the end of 2023. “The people we serve are everyday people,” Rogers said. “We are serving everyone you would expect us to serve and a large number of people you would think wouldn’t need food support at this point. COVID has shifted our financial landscape.”
Crossroads Community Services is the southern hub of the North Texas Food Bank Feeding Network, operating in a food desert. In 2020, nonprofit distributed 11.8 million pounds of food to 84,000 people. Crossroads also serves over 140 agencies and CDPs in Dallas, Ellis and Navarro Counties. “We’re really the largest resource in this community of food at this point,” Rogers said.
Early in the pandemic, National Guard troops and temporary workers from Shiftsmart replaced volunteers. As the delta variant limits volunteer availability, Crossroads is reassessing the need to hire temporary workers again. “That’s not something that was budgeted for us,” Rogers said.
Crossroads appreciates the unrestricted gifts from North Texas Giving Day, allowing them to be nimble and putting money towards unexpected expenses like tents for drive-thrus, expanded WiFi and cooling fans for outdoor workers. “We really have seen the generosity of donors, particularly at the start of COVID, really increase,” Rogers said. “We’re still needing donors and our partners and our foundations to support us at maybe not as high as last year but certainly not as low as before last year. We need a medium.”
In anticipation of its twentieth anniversary, Crossroads is launching the Power of One campaign to emphasize $1 make four meals. Crossroads is encouraging gifts in increments of two such as $20, $200, $2000. “We’re excited about North Texas Giving Day,” Rogers said. “It is the single most extraordinary giving activity I’ve experienced. Donors are social givers and so what CFT along with their other partners have done is really create this huge and magnificent social giving day.”
Since March 2020, Plano Civic Chorus has changed how it presents concerts. The pandemic forced the cancellation of its spring 2020 concert with only two days’ notice. Last fall, the choir recorded a few pieces with a small chamber chorus of 24 socially distanced singers.
For its 2020-2021 season, Plano Civic Chorus presented four concerts with a socially distanced chamber chorus for a smaller, socially distanced audience. “It was really difficult to adapt to because you’re used to hearing somebody right next to you so having everybody so far away, it sometimes seemed easier hearing other parts that were coming across the room,” Lisa Tuggy, Plano Civic Chorus’ Vice President and North Texas Giving Day chairperson, said.
Plano Civic Chorus has announced a 2021-2022 season, taking a cautious approach as pandemic conditions change. The chorus is working to make its singers feel comfortable by following scientific information about best practices for concerts and rehearsals. Last year, the chorus was successful in staying healthy while performing. “You have to have a lot of trust in your singers,” Tuggy said.
The chorus live-streamed its four concerts last season. “That was a new thing for us. Definitely, a new expense and definitely a huge learning curve,” Tuggy said. “For those live streams, we actually had viewers in other countries and all over the United States. We’re going to have to navigate going forward because it is a big expense to have it done properly.”
North Texas Giving Day has been the chorus’ primary fundraiser for several years. During the pandemic, it has been especially important as some other grants have been smaller. The chorus is depending on the social aspect of the fundraiser to meet its North Texas Giving Day goals. “It’s really relying on the support of family and friends, and they really showed up for us last year in a great way,” Tuggy said.
The 2021-2022 season is Plano Civic Chorus’ 49th season, and the chorus is hoping North Texas Giving Day will put them in a strong position to celebrate five decades of singing. “We love to sing, and we love to share that gift of music with everybody,” Tuggy said.
To help Crossroads Community Services, Plano Civic Chorus and all the nonprofits succeed on North Texas Giving Day, McSwain is proud to have Amazon as North Texas Giving Day’s first presenting sponsor. “We’re really excited to have their support and to have them share the message of Giving Day and really have the power behind their brand attract more people in our region,” McSwain said.
Rather than focus on raising a specific dollar amount, McSwain hopes to get more people involved in the North Texas Giving Day movement. “Our goal is really to get people of this region to give. Last year, we had over 106,000 donors,” McSwain said. “That’s an impressive number for sure, but that’s a small drop in the bucket when you think of the millions who live in this region and call it home.”
Give online: https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/