Last month, Arkansans all across the state banded together and showed everyone just how generous they can be during Arkansas Gives, the 12-hour fundraiser presented by the Arkansas Community Foundation.
Fifty-two nonprofits participated in Garland and Montgomery counties, raising just over $500,000 in merely 10 hours. Organizations like these typically receive the bulk of their donations toward the end of the year, so the goal of Arkansas Gives is to create another opportunity to give outside of that.
Carol Scholp, with the Morris Foundation, said Garland and Montgomery counties did especially well this year, even slightly surpassing the $500,000 goal they had set.
“There was a lot of preplanning on Dorothy Morris’ part that took place, but it was well worth it. For the most part, everything ran very smoothly that day,” said Scholp.
The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts led local organizations and ranked second among small nonprofits in the state in the Arkansas Gives online giving event sponsored by the Arkansas Community Foundation on April 6. The school received $51,310 from 123 donations, fifth-most in the small nonprofit category.
Vicki Hinz, ASMSA director of institutional advancement, said lead gifts from the family of Dan Fredinburg, a 1999 alumnus who became the head of privacy for Google X, the research and development facility for Google, and later died in
an avalanche on Mount Everest in 2015, and ASMSA Foundation Fund Board Ambassador Dorothy Morris, president of the Morris Foundation, helped spur members of the school’s “community of learning” to contribute during the 12-hour campaign.
Our Promise Cancer Resources also participated in the event, raising just over $20,000. This program works to provide direct financial assistance to cancer patients
receiving treatment in Garland County.
Patients who use Our Promise’s resources come from 21 different counties across the state. They come here to receive the state-of-the-art cancer treatments available in Hot Springs.
The resource center is open to anyone dealing with cancer, who finds themselves stuck in a hard place, be it emotionally or financially. “We’re nondiscriminatory, just like cancer,” said co-founder and Executive Director Stacey Pierce.
It provides cancer patients with essential resources that otherwise
would not be available — its biggest service is the gas card assistance program.
Our Promise plans to use the money raised from the event to help fund a new resource center. This one will be much larger, and have rooms where patients can spend the night when they travel to receive treatment. It will also offer resources to help patients with financial situations, nutritional education, and emotional support among many other special amenities.
Nonprofits benefiting a vast spectrum of the community participated in the event. Local arts nonprofit Low Key Arts had its best year on record, according to interim Executive Director Dave Hill.
Low Key raised $8,000 this year, despite having held four other fundraisers promoting various events shortly before Arkansas Gives.
“We had already gone to the well, so to speak, a few times, so I had adjusted my expectations for this event,” said Hill. Fortunately, it far exceeded his expectations.
“I was really heartened by the fact that people continue to give to Low Key again, and again,” he said.
Hill said they have no way of knowing which methods used to drum up support worked, but he attributes some of the success to the use of its KUHS radio station.
In the weeks surrounding Arkansas Gives, Low Key Arts engaged in self-promotion using the solar-powered radio station, and on the day of Arkansas Gives, made it available to other nonprofits in the area. It allowed everyone to have a short time slot on air, where they could share a bit about their nonprofit.
Low Key plans to use the funds raised by the event to install an air conditioning unit in its building on Ravine Street, to open up more availability during the summer months for future events at the venue.
The Garland County Literacy Council proved to be a real con- tender in its first go at Arkansas Gives. The council raised a little more than $11,000.
Executive Director Laura Lee Willard called upon her board members and used Facebook to spread the word about supporting the literacy council during the event. She presented people with hard facts about literacy rates, and stressed the importance of good literacy skills.
The council offers an array of free classes, and has begun looking at adding more fee-based classes, as well. Anyone who wants to learn to read, write or speak English is welcomed, regardless of financial resources.
The council has experienced difficulty in the past raising funds, but Arkansas Gives opened up a new door for the council, and it is now looking to the future with heads held high.
Some of the fee-based classes would be geared toward helping first responders communicate effortlessly in situations where there is a language barrier, as well as other courses still in the early planning stages.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of sponsorship, this was the last year for Arkansas Gives, but local philanthropists at the Morris foundation refuse to let the momentum stop.
“We’ve already put out some feelers for people, as far as sponsors go,” said Scholp. The Morris Foundation has dedicated itself to philanthropic efforts in the area, and “when you have created that much momentum, you don’t want to lose it,” said Scholp.
The local nonprofits that participate in Arkansas Gives are also looking at ways to keep from losing the annual funding received through Arkansas Gives.
“We are working on other fundraising ideas, but we hope to participate with whatever transpires to take the place of Arkansas Gives in the future,” said Willard.
If statewide sponsorship is unable to be found, the foundation has discussed doing a similar event on a smaller scale, serving Garland and Montgomery counties.
“We are not giving up yet, that’s for sure,” said Scholp.