Ready, set, give: 24-hour fundraising drive draws near

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Meredith Printz, executive director of Missoula Community Foundation. (Photo by Martin Kidston)

By Martin Kidston/MISSOULA CURRENT

Before Meredith Printz sat down at her desk on Monday morning, she’d already recruited a new business to a pressing cause. The deal, arranged by 7:30 a.m., made Missoula Fresh Market the first local business to sign up for this year’s 24-hour giving campaign.

It wasn’t a bad way to start the week. Or begin the countdown to the 24-hour Give Local Missoula County event slated for May 3.

“It’s one day to celebrate nonprofits and everything they do for our community,” said Printz, executive director of the Missoula Community Foundation. “If everyone gave $5 or $10, we’d have a lot of dollars to help our nonprofits do what they do.”

Printz will spend the next month preparing for the third annual Give Local event – an effort that has grown since it was launched in 2014. That year – and with little to go on – the Missoula Community Foundation rallied 1,901 donors who contributed $135,000.

The results exceeded organizers’ expectations.

“We raised $135,000 for 90 local nonprofits in 24 hours that first year,” said Printz. “We were the only community in Montana to do it that year.”

The event grew the following year to include Bozeman, Helena, Kalispell, Glendive and Anaconda. The six cities collectively raised $640,000 for nonprofits across the state, including $274,000 for those in Missoula.

This year, the Missoula Community Foundation has set a loftier goal, looking to enlist 3,000 donors to give $300,000 in 24 hours. Statewide, 12 participating cities will attempt to raise a collective $1 million.

“Everyone can be a philanthropist,” said Printz. “We want to get people thinking about giving back, not just at the end of the year, but all year long – and all life long.”

Printz said this year’s event will include a number of new strategies, including an effort to get more local businesses and their employees involved in supporting local nonprofits.

Challenge awards and a “share fund” have been established, helping each donation leverage additional funding from a larger pool. Printz said the foundation has also arranged new “donor lounges,” where donors give with an incentive.

“We’re kicking Give Local off at midnight at Plonk with dueling donor lounges in Bozeman and Missoula, because there are Plonks in both cities,” said Printz. “We’ll try to have a strong start by beating Bozeman out of the gate. If you make a $10 donation or more, you get a free drink. It’s a nice incentive.”

Missoula Fresh Market will have its own donor lounge, offering up a deli sandwich with each gift. Local businesses are also encourage to incentivize employees to give. Those who do will receive recognition.

“Fresh Market was the first business to sign up, and they’ve got a lot of employees,” said Printz. “We’ve been working to secure sponsorship to help build our share fund and prizes, and to get businesses involved by encouraging their employees to give.”

Last year, Printz said, 48 percent of donors identified themselves as first-time donors. But statistics suggest that only 44 percent of new donors continue to give – a retention rate the Missoula Community Foundation would like to improve.

“These nonprofits work so hard every day of the year to make our community a better place,” Printz said. “People don’t see themselves as givers or philanthropists. But if more people thought of themselves as givers, we’d all be better off.”

For more information or to get involved, contact the Missoula Community Foundation at 552-7347.