Columns Opinion Your Views — 03 April 2014
Alexandria in ACTion: What if we raise $1 million in one day for local nonprofits?

By John Porter

Does that headline sound crazy? Well, it shouldn’t.

Online giving days — 24 hours spent fundraising on the Internet for a specific cause — gained popularity several years ago. To be honest, we at ACT for Alexandria wondered if this was a fad. Not wanting to be behind the technology curve, though, we gave it a try in 2011.

Called Spring2ACTion, ACT’s first online giving day raised more than $104,000 for Alexandria’s nonprofits. Fast forward to 2013, which saw Spring2ACTion raise more than six times our original yield. So this year we’re going for the gold. We’re going to try and raise $1 million during Spring2ACTion in honor of ACT’s 10th anniversary.

Why do online giving days work? In our case, the causes are good and local: On April 9, you can go to www.spring2action.org and donate to one or more of 116 Alexandria charities. It’s also fun — you can follow the fundraising live online, watching as others donate.

We’ve added 32 nonprofits to the list for 2014, trained them in online giving and offered prizes to give them a boost. We’ve made it easier for donors to give in advance, letting them preselect charities of their choice ahead of the big day. We’ve also streamlined the system for donating to different charities simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the Old Town Boutique District has joined with local restaurants Holy Cow, Pork Barrel BBQ and Sweet Fire Donna’s in shunting a percentage of their proceeds on April 9 to local nonprofits of your choosing.

Who will benefit from your generosity? This year, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture will raise funds using Spring2ACTion to help buy and outfit a new Mobile Market. This vehicle will bring fresh, healthy and affordable fare to low-access food neighborhoods. The Matthew Maury Elementary School PTA wants to upgrade the facility’s constantly washed out playground and fields.

These are just a few examples pulled from the hundreds of ways donations can help create opportunities and change lives.

So now it’s your turn — your turn to show these charities how much you care and want to help. Whether you are able to give $10 or $10,000, your gift is immensely valuable to these deserving organizations. Whatever your passion or cause, I’m sure you’ll find it among the many participating organizations. From helping the homeless to feeding the hungry to increasing educational opportunities for youth, you can be an ACTion Hero, making a difference for the beneficiaries of these many organizations and for our community.

So, please join our community partners — the City of Alexandria, Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association, Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, Old Town Boutique District, Causetown and Six-Half-Dozen — to make April 9 a day to remember. That’s the Alexandria Way.
The writer is the executive director of ACT for Alexandria, Alexandria’s community foundation.

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