Giving Tuesday embraced by conservation, environmental groups

By Tom Henry / The Blade
Thu, 21 Nov 2019 02:45:24 GMT

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This year’s Giving Tuesday appeared to have been another successful one for Toledo-area nonprofits.

“We don't have exact numbers at this point, but all indications are that giving is going to be up,” Keith Burwell, Greater Toledo Community Foundation president, said. “With what we're hearing from nonprofits, there's more and more recognition of [that] day.”

Some 119 nonprofits registered through the foundation for one of three $5,000 grants that will be issued. Winners will be selected by a drawing, Mr. Burwell said.

The special fundraising drive continued well into the evening, with one group — the Perrysburg-based Black Swamp Conservancy — partnering with Earnest Brew Works. Patrons of the South Toledo microbrewery were asked to donate $5 to the conservancy, a land trust dedicated to protecting agricultural land and natural areas throughout northwest Ohio.

It is one of many conservation and environmental groups courting would-be donors throughout the United States and Canada this month, with some embracing Giving Tuesday as a focus of their end-of-year campaigns.

Giving Tuesday was initiated in 2012 as an international day of charitable giving with the idea it could help consumers be less distracted by solicitations during the rest of the holiday season.

It is always the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Two other such groups participating in the Toledo area were Lake Erie Waterkeeper and the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society.

Those who donated online on either group’s website, and on this year’s Giving Tuesday could get Lake Erie Lighthouse calendars for donations of $25 or more.

“It’s better than average on both fronts,” Waterkeeper founder Sandy Bihn said of the overall response. “We usually get a lot at the end of the year because Christmas is a giving time.”

She said that all funds donated for the Toledo Lighthouse “go toward education and restoration of the lighthouse, which when completed will have four people staying at the lighthouse for the season welcoming boaters and tourists.”

“The restored Toledo Lighthouse will be a major tourist destination and economic boon for the region,” Ms. Bihn said.

Lake Erie Waterkeeper “uses funds to build a coalition of supporters to educate and advocate for a sustainable Lake Erie,” Ms. Bihn said.

She said its latest efforts include a campaign to reduce manure sources in the Maumee River watershed, especially from large livestock facilities known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

Kris Patterson, Partners for Clean Streams executive director, said Giving Tuesday has been important to her group because it “kicks off our end of the year fund-raising.”

“I've found that many of our usual donors now give their gift on Giving Tuesday. We also receive small, one-time unexpected gifts,” Ms. Patterson said. “Giving Tuesday allows us to be part of a bigger movement — providing exposure and importance to our appeal. Partners for Clean Streams uses the gifts to support our education, outreach, and stream cleanups. Unrestricted gifts, like those on Giving Tuesday, really help us fill in the gaps to fund programs when grants don't cover it all.”

The mission of Partners for Clean Streams is better water quality and stewardship of Toledo-area rivers and streams, she said.

Scott Carpenter, Metroparks Toledo spokesman, said the park district has participated in past Giving Tuesday events, but didn’t do it this year.

“We may do a social media post and an email blast asking people to remember the Metroparks Toledo Foundation in their holiday giving, but since we recently completed fund-raising for the treehouse village, we decided not to have a big Giving Tuesday campaign this year,” Mr. Carpenter said.

The park district recently surpassed its $1.5 million goal in private donations for its upcoming Cannaley Treehouse Village at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, he said.

The Black Swamp Bird Observatory also did not participate in Giving Tuesday this year, satisfied with the amount of funds raised during other parts of the year, Kim Kaufman, BSBO executive director, said.

“When the idea first hit the scene, it was well-received. But as word spread and more and more nonprofits got on board, donor fatigue set in,” Ms. Kaufman said. “When you have dozens of nonprofits ‘knocking on your door’ on the same day, it can be pretty overwhelming. So BSBO took a different approach, and instead of asking for donations, we took the opportunity to thank our donors, focusing our appeal efforts on our year-end giving message. The feedback we got was pretty amazing; clearly we struck a chord.”