By Kellyn Vuchetich
May 14, 2021
Ten years ago, when nonprofits were still struggling from the impact of the recent recession, the Lincoln Community Foundation staff attended a national conference where they were introduced to a new way to help local nonprofits: giving days. The LCF staff left the conference excited by this concept and immediately started planning to bring it to Lincoln. Barbara Bartle, president of the LCF, says they were the 6th community foundation nationally to launch a giving day.
“End of year giving is a really important time for nonprofits and building their budgets for the following year,” says Bartle. “But summertime is not a great fundraising time. I just knew if we could do something so that funds could go to non-profits mid-year, that it would be so helpful for them to get through to the end of the year again.”
The first Give To Lincoln Day exceeded all expectations. With just a little over 100 nonprofits participating in 2011, they reached their quiet goal of $1 million. Since then, the event has steadily grown. In 2020, a record $7 million was raised in the community from about 28,000 donations. Jenny Chapin, VP of marketing for LCF, says this year is off to a good start with 456 Lancaster County nonprofits registered, including KZUM. Organizations that address arts and culture, environmental issues, animal shelters, youth services, education, and health and medical services are just some of the types of nonprofits that will be supported by this event.
“The great thing about the Lincoln Community Foundation is that we don’t represent one institution,” says Bartle. “That’s why it’s such a great place to have a platform where all nonprofits can participate.” Although registration for nonprofit organizations closed on April 16th for 2021, secular nonprofits recognized as a 501(c)(3) in Lancaster County that are looking to participate in 2022 can plan to register by mid-April.
The official date for Give to Lincoln Day is May 25th, but donations can be made throughout the month of May. “The first few years we had giving open for maybe a week or two,” says Chapin. “Then we decided to move it out to the whole month of May, which gives donors a little bit of leeway and time to plan.” LCF will match donations up to $10,000 per nonprofit per household using a $500,000 match fund generously provided by sponsors.
Prior to the pandemic, Give to Lincoln Day would commence with a festival in Tower Square where different nonprofits would perform and gather as a community. “Last year it was obviously really challenging for all the nonprofits and [the event] had a little bit more serious tone,” says Chapin. “But this year we want to make sure everyone knows it’s a celebration.” T-shirts will be sold to help the community celebrate on Give to Lincoln Day. The profits from merchandise will go straight to the match fund.
“We wish that we could be together,” says Chapin. “We’re hoping to be back to that [festival] by year 11, but this year we’re just playing it safe and hoping everyone will celebrate by donating May 25th.”
If you’re interested in supporting your favorite local nonprofits, there are several ways to give throughout the month. The easiest is to visit givetolincoln.com. With this option, your donation can be made in real time. Donations can also be made over the phone, by mailing in a check to the Lincoln Community Foundation by May 18th, or dropping off a check at any lobby of the presenting sponsor, West Gate Bank. For more information, visit givetolincoln.com.
Kellyn Vuchetich is a journalism intern with KZUM.