This coming Friday (November 18) marks one of my favorite days of the entire year, the Extraordinary Give through the Lancaster County Community Foundation. Now in its fifth year, the Give provides Lancaster County nonprofits an avenue to receive funds through a 24-hour giving marathon. This year, there are 427 charities that are eligible to receive funds through the event.
The event has grown significantly in its short lifetime. The very first year, 2012, saw 192 charities receive $1.69 million dollars. The amount of money raised has increased every year since the Give’s inception.
Although there have no doubt been donors from outside Lancaster County, with a 2015 population estimate of nearly 537,000 in the County, the $6.13 million figure from last fall represents over $11 given for every man, woman and child residing here.
Although an increase in the number of participating organizations (260 in 2013, 307 in 2014, 367 in 2015) has clearly been a major factor in the growing total of contributions, the amount given per organization has also improved with each successive campaign.
There are a number of things that I like about the Extraordinary Give, but the primary reason I’m fond of the day is because of the impact that it has on the nonprofit community. I have yet to speak with a participating charity that has not been thrilled with the results. For some organizations, the donations they receive are a significant portion of their annual budget, especially when many participants have experienced a reduction in other funding sources over the last few years.
Secondly, the charities involved make a tangible difference in the community. Whether it is an education foundation, a health service, a cultural enterprise, or another charity, the participating organizations have literally affected nearly every resident of the county in some manner.
Lastly, the ease with which contributions can be made and tracked makes the day exciting. I typically have the website up on my phone and refresh it hourly to see the level of total donations. After last year’s awe-inspiring response from the community, LCCF President Sam Bressi explained that the day has become “a community celebration of generosity and all that’s good in Lancaster County” that “feels like a holiday.”
With Thanksgiving next week, Lancaster County citizens can look at the list of charities in the Extraordinary Give and identify at least one for which they can give thanks. I encourage everyone to make a donation to one or more charities that hold a special place for you, even if it is just for the minimum allowed donation of $25. For those who have given consistently in the past, incrementally increasing 2015’s gift is a worthwhile goal for this year.
November 18 is going to be a holiday in Lancaster County, and it is a day that is worthy of your celebration. Please join me in making a tangible difference for participating charities and the community that they serve.
By Dan Massey, CPA, Manager