What a Difference a Day Makes—Naperville Gives Day Packs a Powerful Altruistic Punch

October 2015 View more

NMAG1015_Finance_iStock_000057696478_Large_800pxCall it the Jack Bauer of charitable giving. On October 21, Naperville Gives Day will once again attempt to do for civic generosity what the popular television serial “24” did for procedural storytelling—that is, compress a sprawling, multifaceted effort into an exciting one-day span. But the stakes here are far higher than simple Nielsen ratings. For the roughly 20 charitable organizations in and around Naperville that stand to benefit from the community’s 24-hour largesse, Naperville Gives Day, in many cases, represents the chance to condense a large chunk of their fundraising into a brief window of opportunity, and to shine a well-deserved spotlight on their year-round efforts and constituencies.

“By focusing on one day of giving, we are able to magnify each of the nonprofits’ fundraising efforts,” says Angela Bender, a marketing and communications associate for Naperville CARES, the organization that worked with I Support Community to roll out the first Naperville Gives Day in December of 2014. “This allows many small nonprofits to get together and gain more exposure than any one could do on their own. When all of the participating nonprofits, their volunteers, staff and supporters push out the Naperville Gives message and ask for support, the day causes community members to think about what kinds of nonprofits they want to support and also creates excitement and engagement.”

Thinking Big

Indeed, after seeing how the community rallied around the day-of-giving concept last year to the tune of more than $3,700 distributed among 10 to 12 local charities, Naperville Gives Day has pegged this year’s goal at $10,000 for the roster of nearly 20 charities. Marion Ruthig, the founder and executive director of I Support Community, credits the uptick in expectations to both the momentum generated by last year’s successful event and a move from the Tuesday after Thanksgiving last year to October 21 in 2015.

“This year, we moved the day to earlier in the holiday season in order for it to stand alone and to really make it a local community event,” Ruthig explains.

Giving Made Easy

Not only does Naperville Gives Day make it easier for the participating charitable organizations to gain exposure—and the dollars that come with it—it also makes it simple for community members to contribute to their charity of choice by having a centralized online donation platform at www.napervillegives.org. With all of the participating 503(c)(3) organizations conveniently listed and linked in one place, donors can scan the list of potential benefactors, choose a cause to support and amount to give and make a secure contribution quickly and easily.

The website also features a number of leader boards, which allow visitors to track the day’s progress and gives undecided donors a chance to narrow down their options by perhaps helping a lagging organization close the gap on some of those above it in the rankings. Despite this feature, however, everyone involved knows well that Naperville Gives Day isn’t a competition—it’s an all-hands-on-deck community effort in which everyone involved wins by working together. Bender and Ruthig have experienced firsthand how generous Naperville can be when it puts its might behind a cause, and they’re hoping that the second iteration of their giving day concept will confirm that belief in the community once again.

“A giving day brings together community members and businesses with a single goal of supporting and celebrating the wonderful organizations that help make this an amazing community,” Ruthig says. “The benefit in giving on October 21 is that your gift will feed the momentum of giving and inspire others to give, which will make a larger impact than one gift alone.”