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Community Foundation of Washington County, Md. Inc. to hold online fundraiser

April 27, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Bradley Sell and the Community Foundation of Washington County, Md. Inc. will launch a 24-hour, web-based fundraiser designed to benefit area nonprofit organizations.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Following in the footsteps of cities such as Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh, the Community Foundation of Washington County, Md. Inc. is poised to launch a 24-hour, web-based fundraiser designed to benefit area nonprofit organizations.

The Washington County Gives challenge will raise funds for nearly 50 local nonprofits, according to information from the community foundation.

The community foundation’s mission is to promote philanthropy mainly through endowment funds, “but our board feels that our mission should extend to the nonprofit community by providing local organizations an opportunity to raise critical operating funds,” community foundation Executive Director Brad Sell said in a news release.

“It is a web-based, social media-driven fundraiser to help the various nonprofits in Washington County with their operating funds,” Sell said Friday.

On Thursday, May 2, donors will be able to go to the website at http://washingtoncountygives.org and donate to nonprofit groups. During the fundraiser, donors will be able to look at a list of participating nonprofit organizations, learn about their funding needs and make contributions, Sell said.

The fundraising goal for the event is $300,000, he said.

Every participating nonprofit will share in $30,000 in matching money and will be eligible to compete for additional incentive prizes, he said in the release.

The day of giving will start at 12:01 a.m. May 2 and end at midnight. Any 501(c)(3) in Washington County is eligible to participate, but churches, synagogues, mosques and private foundations are prohibited, the community foundation said in the release.

Major sponsors, including Thompson Gas and the CFWC Hershey Family Fund have helped to raise matching funds and prize money totaling $48,000, according to the release.

“One hundred percent of the dollars raised, along with matching funds and incentive prizes, will go directly to the participating nonprofits,” Sell said in the release. “Ultimately, our goal is to invigorate existing donors and reach new ones to improve the quality of life for everyone here in Washington County, Maryland.”

The community foundation has contracted with Razoo Inc., which will host the online giving platform and will track the credit card contributions in real time with two “live” leaderboards, one for total dollars raised and one for total donors, the release said.

The community foundation decided to try the idea after other municipalities and counties such as Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh and Centre County, Pa., held similar events, Sell said.

Nonprofit organizations with paid staff paid a $200 fee to participate and nonprofit organizations with no paid staff paid $100.

Nonprofit organizations had until March 1 to register and 49 signed up, Sell said.

The organizations run the gamut, from those running housing and arts programs to history-related groups and outreach organizations.

Sell said nonprofit organizations have seen declines in funding since the recession, which has resulted in reduced corporate giving and help from government.

Word about the fundraiser will be spread through social media, among other efforts, and a live remote will be conducted at Valley Mall from 5 to 7 p.m. during the May 2 event, Sell said. A computer will be set up during the live remote, when shoppers can stop by and make contributions, Sell said.

Staff writer Holly Shok contributed to this story.

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