Santa Cruz Gives, GT’s new holiday giving program, bolted across the finish line at midnight on Dec. 31 to top its goal by 32 percent. The $92,688 raised was distributed to 30 participating local nonprofits.
GT debuted Santa Cruz Gives in partnership with the Volunteer Center, and with the support of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and the Packard Foundation, all of whom jumped right in to nurture this infant project.
What did we learn? First, Santa Cruz gives. Even more notable than total dollars was the 545 donors—a strong showing for a first-year program—demonstrating that SC County gets it: every little bit counts.
Second, most of the funds raised were from individual donors giving to multiple nonprofits. That is, while some donors were driven by a desire to support a single, favored organization, it was clear that top donors did some one-stop philanthropic shopping on the website (santacruzgives.org). Each nonprofit had its own info page to browse, and donors used the online shopping cart to click wherever inspiration led.
“This form of fundraising on one convenient website is new to our community and truly can create a network of donor participation we haven’t seen before,” said Karen Delaney, executive director of the Volunteer Center. “I am really enthusiastic about its potential.”
A few donors especially warmed our hearts. Two brothers held a bake sale at the Santa Cruz Montessori School, and showed up at the Volunteer Center to deliver 26 $5 donations plus 35 cents for the Teen Kitchen Project. Puppy Breath Boutique allowed Birchbark to hold a bake sale on site that raised $97. And a man in a wheelchair made his way up to the third-floor GT office with two $10 bills for Shared Adventures.
Late on Christmas Eve, after the GT staff had gone home, hopefully already having chowed down a few sugar plums, the last staffer was packed up and ready to lock the door for a few days off, when a pretty young woman walked in with a folder full of cash and checks.
Amanda Tran collected the funds from her co-workers at wearable technology company Fullpower as a holiday gift to their CEO Philippe Kahn and his wife Sonia Lee. Kahn apparently presides over a 10-dog office (sounds much warmer than a three-dog night), and every year the staff donates in his name to a nonprofit that serves animals. Tran was delighted to see that animal organizations were included in SC Gives, and chose Unchained.
“If you do this again next year, we’ll do it again, too!” she said, with a gleam in her eye. I believe I heard her exclaim as she danced out of sight, “And to all, a good night!”