At the height of the Great Recession in 2009, Communities Foundation of Texas launched North Texas Giving Day, challenging individual donors to support nonprofit organizations during a one-day online giving spree. The response of the community was overwhelming, raising $4 million for 345 non-profit organizations through 6,500 gifts.
For the 10th North Texas Giving Day on Sept. 20, Communities Foundation of Texas is relying on the generosity of North Texans.
“We’re a very generous community. The fact that we have so many show up on one day to give shows how wonderful people here are,” said Susan Swan Smith, Community Foundation of Texas’ Chief Giving Day Officer.
Every year since 2009, North Texas Giving Day has grown incrementally. In 2017, 137,000 gifts raised $39 million benefiting 2,723 nonprofit organizations. This year, North Texas Giving Day expands to the state’s northern border, with participating nonprofit organizations in 20 counties.
“We go all the way up to the Red River this year,” Smith said. “That 20 is a nice round number for the 10th anniversary.”
The ambition for North Texas Giving Day remains the same.
“Our job is to make it easy for people to give and connect with nonprofits,” Smith said.
Making that connection has directly benefited the Richardson Symphony Orchestra, an organization that has participated in North Texas Giving Day since its inception.
“We’ve grown significantly every year that we’ve participated. Every year, it becomes more and more exciting to reach new goals and reach new donors through this opportunity,” said Laurie Garvie, the orchestra’s executive director and president. “We’ve really have built this event into our annual plans.”
North Texas Giving Day is an opportunity for the orchestra to increase its exposure and develop its audience.
“We have been fortunate that every single year, we gain several new donors who don’t necessarily know about the Richardson Symphony Orchestra and then they typically contribute thereafter. And most of those donors have also become new subscribers,” Garvie said.
Terrance Johnson, the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of TMJ Dance Project, hopes North Texas Giving Day will be a good platform to introduce the fledging organization. Founded in 2016, TMJ Dance Project uses dance to serve Dallas’ low-income community and promote community enrichment, child and family development, art in education and live performance art.
“Dance is our universal language,” Johnson said. “Before children speak, they communicate through movement, through their body. Dance is innate and part of who they are.”
This is TMJ Dance Project’s first year to participate in the giving event and Johnson has taken advantage of Communities Foundation of Texas’ training sessions about reaching donors.
“I think it’s outstanding,” Johnson said. “Even if you are a novice, they provide you all the tools to be a success on North Texas Giving Day.”
The sessions help organizations fundraise year-round and leverage the power of blossoming social media platforms to tell their stories in innovative ways.
“As North Texas Giving Day has grown, the marketing vehicles have also expanded, and the Communities Foundation has done an excellent job of providing training and a media kit,” Garvie said. “They make it really easy for a small nonprofit like ours to manage the campaign.”
As technology shifts, Smith’s advice to organizations is timeless.
“Have fun. Let your passion show,” she said. “It’s the personal passion that drives people to an organization. The more high-tech we become, the more high-touch we need to be.”
To reach its $60,000 goal, Richardson Symphony Orchestra hopes to make a high-touch connection with prospective donors at Richardson’s North Texas Giving Day celebration at CityLine Plaza from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 20. The orchestra will be one of 20 nonprofit organizations at the event, with musicians playing and a booth full of information about the upcoming season. Communities Foundation of North Texas will staff a booth where people can support organizations they have just met.
“There are so many people who want to support the arts and they really don’t know much about the various organizations out there,” Garvie said. “It’s an easy way to give to multiple organizations in just a few minutes.”
In addition to raising $5,000, TMJ Dance Project hopes to take advantage of North Texas Giving Day’s volunteer component. Besides donating, people can support an organization by pledging time on that organization’s profile page.
“We want to connect with our volunteers,” Johnson said. “They are our ambassadors and we understand the power of social capital.”
Four-hundred organizations have listed 930 volunteer opportunities on their North Texas Giving Day profile pages.
Johnson emphasizes the financial and volunteer support help make a nonprofit organization’s mission become a reality.
“It is an investment,” he said. “You are investing in a child, in a life. You’re investing in someone who couldn’t invest in themselves.”
Susan Swan Smith, Community Foundation of Texas’ Chief Giving Day Officer, said participating nonprofit organizations are vast and there should be something for everyone.
"No matter what your passion is, arts to zoos and everything else in between, there is going to be a nonprofit that's doing what you are interested in," Smith said.
The money raised can be seen in use across North Texas.
"It has gone to everything from helping kids have after school programs, to buying vans, to building shelters for animals, to supporting scholarships [as well as] medical and scientific research," Smith said. "You name it and it has been benefited by a Giving Day donor at some point."
"Every gift makes a difference. There was a lot of money raised last year, but the amount given most frequently was $25 and there were thousands of people who gave a dollar," Smith said. "Every gift makes a difference and it all adds up."