No Gift Goes Unnoticed

How your donations on Give to Lincoln Day impacted the Lincoln community

By Hana Muslic

Since 2012, the Lincoln Community Foundation has been organizing Give To Lincoln Day—a 24-hour event that encourages members of the community to contribute to Lincoln and Lancaster County nonprofit organizations through a single online giving platform.

These donations are then supplemented by a portion of the foundation’s $350,000 match fund. This year’s Give To Lincoln Day (GTLD) was on May 18, 2017, and raised almost $3.7 million. Any nonprofit in the area can register and is featured on the website so Lincolnites can donate to the causes that they feel a connection to.

“It can give these nonprofits added publicity,” said Clover Frederick, vice president of marketing for the foundation. “A lot of people find their favorite nonprofit and donate to them, but some people who’ve never given before go online to explore the charities and give to a new one. It can definitely benefit small to medium-sized nonprofits who maybe don’t have a big name in the community yet.”

For nonprofit organizations of all sizes, the donations that come from GTLD do more than just further their mission; they help the organizations run as a whole. The operational costs that go into running a nonprofit can really add up—training your employees and volunteers, paying electricity bills and rent for your building, setting up fundraising events and much more all take a toll. Even a small donation can go a long way when it comes to keeping a nonprofit afloat.

“As a funder, we understand how critical it is for nonprofits to have unrestricted funds to cover operating costs,” Frederick said. “It’s a big deal, then, that the nonprofit can choose what their money goes to.”

Frederick also said GTLD has been so successful because of Lincoln’s philanthropic-minded community.

“The whole event elevates the idea of giving,” she said. “Lincoln has so many nonprofits that make this city such a great place to live, and the donors want to recognize that.”

This year, 365 nonprofit organizations benefitted from GTLD. We spoke with three of them with diverse missions to see what they gained from the event, and what they’ll be doing in the next couple of months to achieve their goals.

Hearts United for Animals

Amount raised: $45,036.42

Lancaster County’s Hearts United for Animals (HUA) has been working to promote animal welfare issues by providing quality sanctuary and adoption services since 1989. Their no-kill animal shelter houses dogs, cats and other critters for as long as needed before they are ready for adoption. According to Carol Wheeler, HUA’s director, participating in GTLD not only garners financial support but also allows the nonprofit to get the word out about their mission.

“It’s a good summer benefit for us because our supporters are involved, but we also get some promotion from people who otherwise wouldn’t hear about us on social media and emails,” she said.

Donations from this year’s GTLD will contribute to HUA’s spaying and neutering clinic that was started in 2003, as well as their efforts to provide low-cost social rehabilitation and veterinary care services for animals.

St. Monica’s

Amount raised: $35,370.00

At St. Monica’s in Lincoln, employees and volunteers are dedicated to the behavioral health of women and strive to achieve that through empowerment, stability and helping them find self-fulfillment. They offer three residential treatment programs that teach women to reach their goals with educational courses, therapy, counseling and employment opportunities.

“We are thankful to be a part of Give To Lincoln Day every year,” said St. Monica’s Event Coordinator and Development Assistant, Valerie Murphy. “It’s a wonderful avenue to tell our story and let our community know about all the good work going on here every day.”

St. Monica’s plans to use these donations for operational costs. After moving one of their residential facilities to a new house, the nonprofit is still trying to catch up to cover all the basic costs of the move and of their initial programs. This does not, however, include their art supplies for their Expressive Arts project, curriculum for evidence-based practices or childcare at their early childhood center.

“Everything ends up being more of a cost than you think to begin with,” Murphy said. “But every dollar contributes to the cause.”

Clinic with a Heart

Amount raised: $32,889.00

For uninsured or underinsured Lincolnites with health problems, Clinic with a Heart has been serving their needs for free since 2002. There are 670 volunteers who work for the clinic and help out every day—whether that be in small ways like picking up the phone and answering questions, or in big ways like providing professional medical expertise to patients in need. The clinic provides urgent care as well as medical, dental, vision, hearing, physical therapy, chiropractic, mental health and spiritual care. Contributions from GTLD will go to making sure the clinic can continue meeting the standards they’ve set for themselves.

“It’s a volatile time to be a free health care clinic,” said Executive Director Teresa Harms. “One of the important things we do is keep our eyes focused on the mission.”

For Harms, GTLD is a great reflection of what kind of community Lincoln is.

“It’s one of my favorite days,” she said. “Seeing the generosity of donors and all the different nonprofits… it’s one of those days you see that we are all in this together.”

For these three organizations, as well as the hundreds of others that participated in GTLD in 2017, the generosity of donors helps them achieve their missions and enact change in our community. Barbara Bartle, President of the Lincoln Community Foundation, said it best in her post-event press release.

“We are thrilled with how Lincoln citizens truly embraced the occasion to impact so many lives and causes. Give to Lincoln Day is about the heart of our city, and Lincoln clearly has a very big heart.”

It’s clear just from looking online or at her city council campaign that Leirion cares deeply for her family. But what I learned from talking with her is that family is her absolute bedrock. As a child of public school teachers, Leirion was instilled with a sense of civic duty and public service at a young age. Now as a mother of three, she is instilling the same values into her children.

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