Valley Gives Day aims to help local non-profits

by Tim Kane

South Hadley, Granby, Holyoke groups on list

By William Pead
Turley Correspondent

SOUTH HADLEY – Mark down Dec. 12 on the calendar. That’s the day set aside by the Community Foundation of Western Mass to raise money for almost 270 local charities in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. And it’s all done on the internet.
Kristin Leutz, Vice President of Philanthropic Services for the Community Foundation, called it a one-of-a-kind celebration of generosity for Western Massachusetts. Inspired by the “generosity pledge” of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, the Foundation researched effective fundraising approaches to mobilize people to be more generous.
A program in Minnesota that has raised millions of dollars over several years is the model for Valley Gives.
Leutz called it “a really effective way to get people to give back in a fun and easy way, and to inspire the non-profits to build their capacity in online fund-raising.”
“This is the first year, and we would love to make a huge impact,” she said. “We encourage everyone to go on line and get involved on 12-12.”
South Hadley’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Pantry is one of the participating non-profits. Carol Isakson, pantry director, said, “With people using their Facebook and Twitter accounts, we’re getting the word out about the food bank to a wider audience.”
She said, “If you have a brother out in Omaha who you’ve talked to about the food pantry, all he has to do is get online and, with a couple of clicks, make a donation.”
Isakson was surprised to find how many non-profits were listed on the Valley Gives website. She calls it “a pretty easy and convenient way to be able to make your tax deductible donation to the charity of your choice.”
As the website points out, “residents of Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties will join together for 24 hours in special events and online campaigns to make gifts to their favorite charities.”
When donors visit between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Dec.12, they will be able to make donations to non-profit groups of their choosing.
At the end of the day, the three non-profit groups that have raised the most money and the top three that have the most donors giving to them will be awarded grants of $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000.
The non-profit organization in 12th place in each category will receive $1,200.
A minimum donation is $10. There is no maximum donation limit.
Local non-profits listed on the website include the public libraries in South Hadley, Granby and Holyoke.
Joe Rodio, the director of the South Hadley Public Library, said they’re currently involved in a capital campaign to raise money for the construction of a new library, and not actively pursuing the Valley Gives approach.
But Granby Library director Jennifer Grant said the Valley Gives fundraiser piggybacks well with their drive to raise money for the town’s library building project. “We’re focusing on fundraising for our furniture budget,” she said. “We need to put furniture in that new library. We’ve been very lucky so far and very fortunate that our community has come together and already done so much for us. The support is inspirational.”

South Hadley/Granby non-profits
• Friends of the South Hadley Library
• Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Pantry
• Friends of the Granby Free Library
• Loomis Housing Corporation
• For The Health of It in Western Mass