By Chris Teale (Courtesy photo)
In the space of 24 hours, donors raised more than $1.3 million for 153 Alexandria nonprofit organizations on April 20 in the sixth annual Spring2ACTion fundraiser.
Organized by community charitable foundation ACT for Alexandria, the day of giving raised $1,337,493 from 8,316 individuals, some of whom gave more than once. The final tally was an increase of $60,584 from 2015’s total of $1,276,909 in what is the region’s only coordinated day of giving.
“It was another fascinating day for online fundraising for Alexandria’s nonprofits,” said ACT for Alexandria president and CEO John Porter. “[The] benefit to the nonprofit community is just immense. We’ve had so much positive feedback from the participants relative both to the fun of the day and also the awareness that it creates for some of their issues and also certainly for the revenue that helps support their important work.”
Grant-making organization RunningBrooke led the way among all nonprofits as it raised $96,602, which will help fund the rebuild of another playground, one of its key initiatives. After a similar project last year at the Hume Springs Park playground, RunningBrooke will look to revitalize the Taney Avenue Park playground among other projects. One of the ways RunningBrooke raised funds was through a walk along King Street in Old Town, something Porter said helped raise awareness as well as money.
Cat rescue group King Street Cats came in second overall, raising $62,246 to help fund its all-volunteer effort at the city’s only free-roaming no-kill facility, while Arlandria-based Casa Chirilagua raised $53,937 towards its work bringing the community together. The Alexandria Soccer Association led the way for most individual donors with 762, followed by animal rescue and adoption agency Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Inc. and Casa Chirilagua with 589.
While a large portion of the day was focused on online fundraising, numerous organizations put on events at which they raised money. Porter pointed to a happy hour on the Miss Christine river boat hosted by Friends of Alexandria Archaeology, a free bicycle cleaning at Del Ray bicycle co-operative Velocity and an 18-hour yogathon held by youth yoga advocates YoKID at Ease Yoga and Café in Del Ray as just a few examples of organizations looking to raise awareness as well as funds.
“The fundraising is important, and like we say when we talk about Spring2ACTion when we talk with the nonprofits as this begins to roll up, it’s not just about yesterday,” Porter said. “It’s about the larger sense of getting their toolbox in the sense of raising funds and other ways to reach out to potential donors and/or potential volunteers. It’s also in many ways much more a creation of more awareness of your organization and what your organization does.”
Alexandria City Public Schools’ PTAs raised more than $97,000 for a variety of projects, including efforts to upgrade technology, renovate classrooms and playgrounds and fund field trips. Mount Vernon Community School raised a total of $25,630 towards revitalizing its playground, while 124 donors raised $6,425 for the T.C. Williams Stadium Initiative Fund, a public-private partnership outside of ACPS to upgrade Parker-Gray Stadium at the school.
While the fundraising total increased compared to last year, the number of unique donors dipped slightly from 2015’s total of 9,431. Porter said ACT for Alexandria would review the day’s events and establish any trends in giving, but said the fact that 2016 is a presidential election year may have impacted some people’s desire to give.
“Apparently in election years, particularly national election years — I’ve heard both sides of this — there seems to be an impact on nonprofit fundraising because of fundraising that’s taking place in political campaigns and so forth, and of course this is a presidential election year,” Porter said. “I don’t know that had anything to do with it, but you start looking for what made the difference.”
Looking forward, Porter said translating the 24-hour period of giving into year-round fundraising is a difficult task, but something that is possible. Porter cited the quote, “We are
all here on Earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know,” by poet W.H. Auden, and said that he has seen plenty of evidence of people wanting to get involved.
“Alexandria is a town of small businesses, and therefore developing relationships. It’s providing individuals with avenues to explore what they care about in ways in which they might help others,” Porter said. “Inside, we all want to make a difference. We all want to have an impact. We have certain things we have to do and certain things we want to do during our lives from working to vacations and all that.
“I’ve seen it so many times in this life and my first career when I was principal of T.C. Williams, with people who came to me wanting to make a difference.”