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Nonprofits see gains in online donations

By Doreen Hemlock, Sun SentinelJuly 1, 2013

When nonprofits look for cash and other donations these days, they’re relying less on the phone, mailings, cocktail parties or a good ol’ knock on the door, and instead, turning more to the Internet.

The Pantry of Broward, for example, saves donors a trip to the store by letting them shop on their website and pay for food items with a credit card. The food bank then sends its staff to pick up the food from partner stores, including many buy-one-get-one-free deals from Publix Supermarkets.

The Salvation Army of Broward County simplifies its pickups of furniture, clothes and other donations by letting donors schedule pick-up times through their computers and mobile devices. The group now averages more than 400 pickups per month scheduled online, said Jim Moyer, donor program manager.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s South Florida chapter, meanwhile, encourages people walking or running in their fundraising events to create their own fundraising pages online. Individuals and heart-felt stories are more likely to encourage family, friends and colleagues to donate and click right then to support the cause, said Emily Marquez, executive director of the Hollywood-based group.

“We’re online-driven,” said Marquez, “Fundraising is really about the personal touch, and individuals’ pages are customized, and you can send links easily to your personal list of friends and contacts.”

Across America, online gifts to nonprofits are growing faster than other types of donations, according to reports in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Online donations rose 14 percent last year from 2011 to reach $2.1 billion, said a study of 115,000 nonprofits whose giving totals were provided by online-fundraising processors Blackbaud, Network for Good and PayPal.

Online contributions to the nation’s biggest charities also grew 14 percent last year to $785 million in The Chronicle’s study of 149 large nonprofits.

That’s much speedier growth than the overall rise in donations to nonprofits last year from 2011, estimated at 1.5 percent adjusted for inflation, according to donation tracker Giving USA.

To be sure, online donations still represent just a sliver of total giving — 2.1 percent of donations from private sources for the large nonprofits surveyed. But some groups are especially online savvy. The American Lung Association, for example, receives 30 percent of its gifts online, The Chronicle reported.

The Pantry of Broward exemplifies the online shift in South Florida. The five-year-old group provides food and other services for low-income residents in the county, especially disabled, veterans and grandparents raising grandchildren.

Since Internet marketer Terrence Smalley joined two years ago, The Pantry has worked on upgrading its website and adding online programs. More donors now have signed up through the site for monthly deductions from their credit cards. And more use an online shopping cart to choose items to donate.

Those innovations increased the portion of donations received online to 22 percent last year from 12 percent in 2011. And the total could reach 35 percent this year, thanks to the new shopping cart for its Virtual Food Drive, Smalley said.

“I’d like to see it get to 50-50,” said Smalley. He said online giving makes it easier to track donations — the check is not in the mail. And it makes it simpler to keep a searchable database, said Smalley.

For The Salvation Army of Broward, meanwhile, online scheduling for pickups has taken “a lot of pressure off” its telephone operators to handle a rising volume of calls, said manager Moyer. The operators handle calls roughly 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturdays. But online scheduling — now even by cellphone — lets residents arrange for pickups after those hours and Sundays, too.

Some nonprofits are finding success on crowd-funding sites, which generally ask for small donations toward a specific project.

The months-old site for arts groups in Broward, power2give.org, just helped the Coral Springs Museum of Art raise the full $9,786 it sought in 62 days in order to fund a new digital arts classes for middle- and high-school students, said Bryan W. Knicely, the museum’s executive director.

“One of our largest donations came from someone in Chicago who understood our project and wanted to help,” said the museum’s executive director, Bryan W. Knicely. “That’s the power of social media. Donors can be from anywhere.”

The Coral Springs museum is so pleased with funding from power2give.org that it just posted a second project on that site and is revamping its own website to accept online donations there, too.

That push mirrors national trends. Of large nonprofits surveyed by The Chronicle, nearly three-quarters expect online donations to jump beyond 10 percent of their overall fundraising in the next several years.

dhemlock@sunsentinel.com or 305-810-5009

Copyright © 2013, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

Dancing with the Stars of Broward supports The Pantry once again

sunsentinelalysapic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 21, 2013

Dancing fundraiser helps those in need

Alyssa Lovitt dances with Bryant Williams during the Dancing with the Stars of Broward fundraiser.   (Photo courtesy of Eric Weintaub/VMAstudios)

By Jennifer Shapiro-Sacks, Special Correspondent

Five community leaders recently competed in a dancing competition similar to the TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”

However, their efforts weren’t to win the mirror ball trophy, but rather to raise money for The Pantry of Broward. The fifth annual Dancing with the Stars of Broward, staged at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, raised more than $92,000 for the charity, which provides food and other support services to seniors on low, fixed incomes and grandparents raising their grandchildren.

“The money raised from this incredible event will go directly to help make sure our 425 clients and 166 grandchildren don’t go hungry this summer,” said Terrence Smalley, director of marketing and online services.

This year’s event raised the most money and had its highest attendance, Smalley said.

“Each year, it grows bigger and bigger,” he said. “The whole community bands together to help us keep our doors open.”

Smalley said they distribute about 24,000 pounds of food and feed 900 to 1,200 people.

“More and more people are coming to our doors every day,” he said. “We’re the only one dealing with senior citizens and grandparents with grandchildren.”

The competition winner was Kathy O’Brien of the Fort Lauderdale Country Club. She wanted to help a good cause, and dancing in a competition was on her bucket list.

“It was just a wonderful experience to be able to be taught by a professional dancer and raising interest for The Pantry,” she said. “Every year, it’s getting better and better. It’s a great experience, almost like being on the real ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”

Other competitors were Chef Lee Blakley of Wines for Humanity, Alyssa Lovitt of Timpano Italian Chophouse, John Mabry of AutoNation and Luke Moorman of Carroll’s Jewelers.

For more information, visit http://www.thepantryofbroward.org or call 954-358-1481.