By Chris Ryan
It’s just two years old now, but at the close of the holiday campaign, Santa Cruz Gives raised $102,379 in individual donations — nearly 75% more than in 2015. Overall, the innovative online platform achieved $181,089 for 33 local non-profits.
One of its major goals is introducing the next generation to the world of philanthropy. It’s a challenging age group for non-profits to reach, yet the under-35 set made 115 donations throughout the 5 1/2–week campaign. The non-profit with the most younger supporters? Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, with 27 donors under age 35.
Some of them are dipping their toes in the world of philanthropy for the first time. Suzanne Willis, Second Harvest Food Bank’s Development and Marketing Officer, remarked, “We hope our younger donors will be involved with Second Harvest or another non-profit throughout their lives, not just through giving but also through volunteering, advocacy, and eventually, leadership.”
Jeanne Howard, creator of the campaign and Publisher of Santa Cruz Good Times, is already thinking about next year’s campaign. “My top goal for 2017 is to ask some major donors to provide matching funds to help elevate the program to the next level.”
When you think of non-profits, you might think of environmental and veterans groups, benefit concerts and 5k runs, and those envelopes you get in the mail asking for your support.
Non-profits of all sorts teach people to read, support families fighting cancer, help people without homes, keep our water clean, and so much more, working — often behind the scenes — to keep the community vibrant and healthy. The formula for supporting this critical work hasn’t changed much over the years, even as social media replaces those snail mail appeals.
Think of Santa Cruz Gives as a “one-stop shop” where you can donate to your favorite local non-profit, or to two or three or thirty—all in one place, in one transaction. And while the campaign is live, anyone can track the progress of the non-profits through online graphs updated in real time.
The idea is about more than just convenience. It’s also about introducing potential donors to groups they may not have heard of yet—like UnChained, which pairs at-risk youth with homeless dogs in need of training and adoption.
It’s not a brand new model as there are newsweeklies in other communities that are trying it out, and Howard brought it to the county with the help of Karen Delaney, Executive Director of the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County. For the first year, 30 non-profits were selected to participate.
Each organization shares a key project or “big idea.” For Second Harvest Food Bank, which delivers over 8 million pounds of healthy food to local children, seniors, veterans, and families in need, it was the “Virtual Barrel.”
The Food Bank collects food donations in actual barrels placed around the county, but Second Harvest wants donors to know they can fill an entire barrel with healthy food with a cash donation of only $25. They can do this because of their buying power and their relationships with local farmers.
This is just one example of how “Santa Cruz Gives” proves that Santa Cruz gives.
In partnership with the Volunteer Center, Santa Cruz Gives (www.santacruzgives.org) was created by Good Times, and was supported this year by Santa Cruz County Bank and Wynn Capital Management.