Make your plan for East Texas Giving Day

Published on Wednesday, 19 April 2017 14:05 - Written by KYLE PENNEY, East Texas Communities Foundation

The second annual East Texas Giving Day is scheduled for 6 a.m. to midnight Tuesday. How do you plan to participate? Let me encourage you to get on your computer, tablet or smartphone today and investigate the organizations that you would like to support. As an added feature this year, you can go ahead and preschedule your gift. There is no need to delay; you can give today at easttexasgivingday.org.

Our staff at East Texas Communities Foundation, as well as our participating charities, learned several lessons last year and have made improvements to the donor experience to make it easier than ever to give. In addition to prescheduled gifts, the site allows contributions to multiple charities with one transaction and allows payment by credit card or bank draft. We are all learning about the power of social media, and many nonprofits have invested time and energy to improve their outreach and participation levels. Your participation in East Texas Giving Day will help our local charities understand what level of priority should be given to online giving platforms as a growing source of annual financial support.

I don’t know about you, but I was enticed to do my taxes online this year due to the low cost of the online option versus the software purchase option. Similarly, our local nonprofits are always trying to find the right balance between direct mail, hosting fundraising events and offering new options such as online giving. East Texas Giving Day is an enthusiastic, community-wide opportunity to raise funds, but it also serves as a barometer for local charities that are experimenting with social-media fundraising.

There are more than 175 charities participating this year, spanning a wide variety of categories including animals, arts and culture, community improvement, education, environment, health, human services and youth development. How many of these charities do you know about? Here is your chance to do your homework and find out more about them. Each charity has a donation page on the East Texas Giving Day site that describes its mission and provides additional links to its website and social media pages.

More than $200,000 worth of matching funds have been raised by local charities this year, and each donation page will indicate how much match remains at the time of your gift. Incentive prizes will be awarded throughout the event to reward achievements such as Most Gifts During a 30-minute Period or Most Unique Donors during a specified time frame. In fact, there is a $1,000 prize awaiting the organization that raises the most money in prescheduled gifts, so you can help your favorite charity right away.

Prior to 6 a.m. on Tuesday, the home page at EastTexasGivingDay.org will show a countdown to the formal start of the 18-hour event, and at 6 a.m. the leader board will begin counting up the number of gifts and total dollars raised. The leader board is a fun (and slightly addicting) way to check on various charities during Giving Day. During the event, the leader board can be sorted to show an alphabetical list of participants, a list by total number of gifts or total dollars raised.

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One of the most important things you can do as a participant in Giving Day is to share your experience via social media with others. If you are passionate about supporting a local charity, East Texas Giving Day is a perfect opportunity to share your passion with others. After you give, you can “share” your experience via Facebook, Twitter or snap a picture and text or email it to a friend to encourage them to support your favorite charity. East Texas Giving Day is a day where giving privately and quietly can be temporarily suspended in favor of boldly sharing the joy of giving. Your enthusiasm for your favorite charity just may be the spark that ignites a similar passion in someone else. Don’t miss the joy. And don’t miss the opportunity to allow someone else to experience the joy you feel when you give well.

Guest columnist, Kyle Penney is president of East Texas Communities Foundation and a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy. The mission of ETCF is to support philanthropy by providing simple ways for donors to achieve their long-term charitable goals. To learn more about ETCF or to discuss your charitable giving, contact Kyle at 866-533-3823 or email questions or comments to etcf@etcf.org. More information is available at www.etcf.org . Join ETCF to support your favorite charity on Tuesday at www.EastTexasGivingDay.org .