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Arizona Gives Day, April 7, comes at crucial time for many nonprofits
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Arizona Gives Day, April 7, comes at crucial time for many nonprofits

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Tuesday, April 7, is Arizona Gives Day, the ultimate “social distancing” fundraiser.

The 24-hour online giving campaign — found at AZGives.org — has evolved into one of the biggest fundraising events of the year for many Arizona nonprofits. During the COVID-19 era, it has taken on even greater significance.

“Nonprofit organizations are really just like any other sector right now: We have people that are struggling. Many nonprofits are seeing an increase in need for their services and an increase in expectations to provide while they are experiencing a decrease in funding and revenue, so it is a double whammy. No nonprofit is exempt from feeling what is happening; they all need support,” said Jennifer Purcell, vice president of community engagement for the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits.

The alliance, which is dedicated to providing resources and support for nonprofit organizations, implemented the annual daylong donation drive in 2103; since then Arizona Gives Day has generated $17 million for nonprofits statewide. A record $3.6 million was raised last year.

In addition to benefiting from the 2020 donation drive, 983 participating nonprofits will vie for $184,500 in incentive prize money courtesy of presenting sponsors FirstBank, Thunderbird Charities and the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation.

Prize dollars will be awarded based on organization size — micro, small, medium, large and extra-large — and include categories such as “Most Dollars” and “Unique Donors” as well as “Power Hours” awards at $25, $50 and $100 levels for the most dollars raised each hour between 7-10 a.m. and 2-5 p.m.

Golden Ticket awards will feature random drawings hourly for donations of $25 or more, with one nonprofit winning $1,000 between 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

A Fundraising Pages award will also feature 10 random $500 drawing for pages that raise $100-plus. Additionally, in response to COVID-19, a group of donors has provided funding to allow the alliance to waive the payment processing fees normally paid by nonprofits participating in Arizona Gives Day.

“The donor will cover up to $3 million in payment processing fees for credit and debit cards and electronic checks on AZGives.org so that more money goes directly to the nonprofits,” Purcell.

Purcell said the Alliance has also created an Arizona Gives Day Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund through which donors have the option to increase donations as an add-on at checkout or through a direct donation www.azgives.org/relieffund. All funds will be distributed equally among participating nonprofits.

“A short questionnaire survey by the Alliance to member nonprofits statewide showed that, so far, the total loss of revenue due to COVID-19 as reported by 425 nonprofits is $36.8 million,” said Purcell.

She said more than 83% of the organizations attribute the decreased revenue to canceled fundraising events and nearly 60% expressed concern for budgetary implications related to strains on the national economy.

“We are trying to get the word out as much as we can that nonprofits are hurting. There is a lot of focus on restaurants and on the retail sector, but many people don’t realize that the nonprofit sector in Arizona is the same size as the retail sector. We want to make sure that people realize how much nonprofits are impacted since many of them are the safety nets or the first groups people turn to in times of need,” said Purcell.

That impact is evident to Southern Arizona nonprofits such as Cody’s Friends – codysfriends.org – which has no paid staff and receives no tax dollars. It is classified as a “micro” organization for Arizona Gives Day.

Founded in 2010 by Tucsonan Cody Allen, now a 19 year old studying veterinary science at the University of Arizona, Cody’s Friends is on a mission to feed animals in need.

Last year, it provided more than 35,000 meals and critical supplies for pets each month to 48 human and animal welfare organizations such as Pima Animal Control Center, Gospel Rescue Mission, Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Interfaith Community Services, Meals On Wheels and other community partners.

Cody’s Friends brings relief to people who would otherwise go hungry before letting their pets suffer; it also enables pets to remain with their families as opposed to being on the streets or in shelters, according to Amber Allen, Cody’s mom and executive director of the nonprofit.

Amber said donations of pet food, which are collected in boxes at 50 retail locations throughout the community, came to a standstill when businesses closed due to COVID-19.

Simultaneously, there has been a spike in need for the supplies; the situation is further complicated since some pet stores and retailers are also experiencing shortages of pet supplies.

“We are having a really hard time right now. The need is just growing more and more. We have lots of conversations with food banks and soup kitchens and their numbers are up more than 40% over what they typically see; people who they haven’t seen for years are showing up for help and they also need food for their pets,” said Amber, who emphasized that many people will go hungry before letting their pets suffer.

Amber hopes that Arizona Gives Day will bring in monetary contributions and in-kind donations of pet food while boosting public awareness.

“We have 25 extremely passionate volunteers who make this all possible and 100% of donations go straight to pet food. Honestly we need as much pet food as possible because we don’t know how long this will continue. We are grateful for any donation,” she said. For now, Amber said she is taking each day as it comes.

“Nonprofits are always a lot of work, but this time it is just different. I am having sleepless nights where I just lay there and think about all of the animals and people in need,” she said.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net

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