Pittsburgh Gives: Aiding Those With Critical Needs
- May 7, 2019
CiviCore facilitates dozens of giving days each year with our online fundraising technology. The bulk of these events are community-based, run by a community foundation or nonprofit alliance, and working to raise money for local nonprofits of all kinds in their respective communities. But one event, Pittsburgh Gives, is doing things a little differently.
Hosted by the Pittsburgh Foundation, Pittsburgh Gives is a critical needs giving event. The annual 16-hour giving day supports nonprofits that provide critical needs assistance, and each year Pittsburgh Gives selects a category of need to highlight. For the 2019 event—which is the organization’s 10th year running online giving days and takes place today, May 7—Pittsburgh Gives is supporting organizations that aid with basic needs, including food insecurity, transportation, housing, child care, and physical and mental health. The Foundation’s program staff members, who have expertise tracking the most critical needs facing the community, chose these areas of focus.
Pittsburgh Gives’ service region includes Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, meaning nonprofits who serve that area and provide direct service in at least one of the five areas of basic needs were eligible to participate. The 2019 online fundraiser has taken on the tagline, “One day for giving and getting help,” and uses the hashtag #ONEDAY to spread the word. The Foundation also organized a TV advertising campaign, its first in years, and digital advertising to drive awareness of the event.
In an interview on Pittsburgh’s local CBS station, Yvonne Maher, Executive Vice President of The Pittsburgh Foundation, and Traci Weatherford Brown, Chief Advancement Officer of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, spoke about the importance of nonprofits that provide critical needs assistance. According to Yvonne, “While 70% of the population in Pittsburgh is thriving, about 30% of the population is being left behind.” Food insecurity is particularly prevalent across the region.
Working at the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, Traci is acutely aware of the problem. “We know that one in seven of our neighbors in Allegheny County struggle to have enough to eat,” she says during the interview. For children, the statistic is even more problematic; one in five children are experiencing food insecurity. And there’s another unexpected population that is struggling to find enough to eat: college students. “Hunger is not where you always think it is,” Traci reminds us. She reports that one in three college students in the area are dealing with food insecurity. In more rural Westmoreland County, one in nine people face food insecurity.
While it’s clear that food insecurity is a basic need, it may not be obvious that a lack of transportation or child care can be equally as inhibiting. Consider, for example, a single parent working a minimum-wage job across town. If they don’t have money for gas or public transportation, they have no way to get to work and earn an income. If they have young children but no child care, they may find themselves in even more of a bind, having to decide between going to work and caring for their children.
The nonprofits participating in Pittsburgh Gives are working to alleviate issues like these. Travelers Aid, a nonprofit organization run by the United Way of Allegheny County, empowers low-income individuals and families by providing public transportation passes, gift cards for gas stations, greyhound bus tickets, credits for ridesharing aps such as Lyft and Uber, discounted or free trips in vehicles run by the organization, and more. The organization tailors its offerings to specialized scenarios, offering 16 programs from Senior Transportation Assistance to Mobile Moms. Travelers Aid currently works with 35,000 low-income individuals and families to provide transportation. The positive effect this has on the Pittsburgh community and economy is simply incalculable.
Several other nonprofits in critical needs assistance are focused on child care. The region’s only crisis nursery, Jeremiah’s Place, provides free child care for a few hours or days in the case of an emergency. If parents are interested in furthering their education, Angels’ Place provides classes and free child care so adults can focus on their studies.
Pittsburgh TV network and CBS affiliate, KDKA, has been a partner throughout, tweeting a link to the interview and an inspiring call to action:
“One day, lack of affordable child care won’t hurt low-income families. The Pittsburgh Foundation explains how the #ONEDAY Critical Needs online giving campaign on May 7 will help neighbors struggling with child care.”
How Pittsburgh’s Giving Day Empowers Nonprofits
The Pittsburgh Foundation has been facilitating giving events for 10 years. Any giving day with such a long history risks encountering donor fatigue, but The Pittsburgh Foundation does an excellent job of keeping things interesting year after year. In particular, Pittsburgh Gives utilizes prizes and incentive funds to amplify the efforts of their individual donors.
This year, $788,000 is available in prorated incentive funds, with $738,000 from The Pittsburgh Foundation and its donors, and $50,000 from The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. Unlike a dollar-for-dollar match, prorated incentive funds are proportionally distributed to all organizations who have raised money. The Pittsburgh Gives website provides a clear example to illustrate this: If there is $50,000 available in prorated incentive funds and $1 million is donated across numerous nonprofits, participating organizations would receive an additional $0.50 for each dollar raised.
To help the roughly 200 participating organizations understand this and other aspects of Pittsburgh Gives, The Pittsburgh Foundation provides an in-depth nonprofit toolkit. Resources include webinars (which are recorded versions of live trainings held earlier in the season), marketing resources, and pertinent documents.
Pittsburgh Gives also utilizes the scheduled donations feature of the CiviCore Giving Platform to ensure engagement. The Foundation opened scheduled donations on May 2, a few days before the giving day, allowing people time to research organizations and make gifts in advance of May 7.
Pittsburgh’s critical needs assistance event typically receives donations coming from all 50 states. Last year they leaned on this support in the wake of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Because The Pittsburgh Foundation was already set up with the CiviCore Giving Platform, CiviCore was able to work with them to quickly launch a critical needs online fundraiser, marked with the hashtag #LoveIsStronger. Donations from the event went to organizations serving people affected by the shooting, including victims, their families, and the surrounding community.
Though it can be difficult to accept that not everyone in our community has the same access to basic needs, it is an important realization, and one that Pittsburgh does a great job of highlighting in an empowering way. When one member of our community suffers, we all suffer. But by the same token, when one of us grows stronger, we all grow stronger together.
To learn more about Pittsburgh Gives, visit the website and stay tuned to the campaign’s leaderboards throughout the day. If you’re interested in running a critical needs giving event, contact us! We have information available on our website here and are always eager to answer questions in person.