Giving Tuesday ‘alive, well’ and creative for 30-plus Missoula nonprofits

Missoula Community Foundation’s Women’s Giving Circle, a group of women who pool their resources to have collective impact, donated $10,000 to Free Cycles, to help the business build its Build-a-Bike program. Standing, left to right: Terri Goldich, Marcy Allen, Emily Jensen, Bob Giordano, Jen Euell, Jessie Rogers, Lisa Robertson. Kneeling: Nikki Robb. (Missoula Community Foundation)

Deemed “a global generosity movement,” Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 based on one simple concept: to encourage people to do good.

Linda McCarthy, Downtown Missoula Partnership executive director, said at least 30 nonprofits are raising money during Giving Tuesday, which she said “is definitely alive and well in Missoula.” 

Donors appear to be giving, starting with Opportunity Resources Inc., which by mid-afternoon needed only $2,500 more to buy a $10,000 para-transit van for its disabled clients. The van will be used to transport clients to medical appointments and work. 

Opportunity Resources has provided services, including housing and assisted living, for people with disabilities in Missoula since 1955.

“We’ve been promoting it for about two weeks now, leading up to Giving Tuesday,” said Donna Roness, marketing and events manager at Opportunity Resources. 

On the Giving Tuesday website, two Montana towns are signed up for the visual map of current community campaigns: Helena and Stevensville. But Missoula nonprofits seem independently on board in their own ways.

CASA of Missoula executive director Scott Appel, recruitment doordinator Katie Didier and program manager Kirsten Pulito work with between 200 to 300 individual donors, 288 children and 120 volunteer advocates. (Renata Birkenbuel/Missoula Current)

Among dozens of Missoula nonprofits listed at Make It Missoula, CASA of Missoula, Inc., prefers to fundraise at other times, and not necessarily on Giving Tuesday.

“For us, it’s not a huge event,” said Scott Appel, CASA of Missoula executive director. “We certainly post on our Facebook page and Instagram and we advertise in that way that today is Giving Tuesday. For us, it’s probably not the most significant fundraising thing that we do. A day like today, there’s so much competition.” 

Instead, CASA depends heavily on its annual Light of Hope Gala fundraiser on Jan. 31, a Super Hero Run in the spring and partnering with other community businesses like a ReStyle Clothing Exchange bag sale and Plonk Missoula wine dinners to raise funds. 

“Our annual budget is somewhere around a little over $300,000,” said Appel. We’ve raised roughly half of our budget from the community through local fundraising activity. That combination of activities raises a little more than half of our budget. The rest comes through grants and contracts with the state.” 

Both donors and potential donors receive mail requesting donations, too. 

“We benefit from the profits and we do a semi-annual mail appeal,” said Appel. “We’re getting the community to think about supporting nonprofits; its good from that standpoint.” 

While some nonprofits depend heavily on Giving Tuesday, others like the Missoula Community Foundation, follows another fundraising strategy.

“We do not focus much on this Giving Tuesday beside a quick post on Social Media,” said Marcy Allen, MCF executive director. “Our focus is on Missoula Gives, our day of giving in the spring, which will be April 30 to May 1 this year. This year we hope to help area nonprofits raise over a one-half million dollars.”

The foundation’s mission looks to inspire philanthropy, strengthen nonprofits and embrace a thriving, inclusive community. That means that Giving Tuesday is still very high on its list of priorities.

“We are, however, an advocate for all those nonprofits running Giving Tuesday events,” said Allen. “This type of funding is so crucial for nonprofits who need unrestricted operating dollars to fulfill their missions. The less time they have to spend writing grants and grant reports the more time they get to dedicate to the important work they do in our communities.”

So far, MCF has given away $50,000 this year to various nonprofits and helped raise $420,000 on its special Missoula Gives day. Allen encourages individuals to give the gift of time or money.

“You don’t have to give big; you can carry someone’s groceries to the car, give 5 dollars, or buy a coffee for the person behind you in line. Guess what? Giving feels good. If people have a passion area, we can help connect them with organizations doing work in that area.”

The Giving Tuesday website reports that in the past seven years, the idea of giving to nonprofits has grown into a global movement that inspires “hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate and celebrate generosity.

A directory on the website contains lists of organizations, events and other ways for donors to give back in their local communities. The website maintains a live, ongoing countdown of Giving Tuesday, plus a real-time count of the amount of money raised online, the number of financial gifts from donors, and the “mean” size of the gift.

Contact Business Reporter Renata Birkenbuel at renatab@missoulacurrent.com and 406-565-0013.