Since 2013, the first Tuesday in April has been all about giving in Arizona. The statewide day of philanthropy known as Arizona Gives Day is no gimmick: It has raised more than $10 million for nonprofit organizations in the past five years; in 2017 alone, it netted more than $2.7 million.
More than 1,000 Arizona nonprofits hope to break that record during the 24-hour period Tuesday.
“With Arizona Gives Day, we are really trying to build a spirit of philanthropy in the state. We have lots of people who live here part-time, and because of that, they often give in their home states. We need those people, along with those living here year-round, to understand that their dollars are helping to make Arizona’s community as strong as it can be,” said Jennifer Purcell, director of community engagement for the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, which spearheads Arizona Gives Day and provides resources and support for Arizona nonprofits.
The day-long online donation drive can be accessed either through the nonprofits’ websites or through the Arizona Gives Day website, www.azgives.org
All participating charities are eligible to qualify for various categories of prize money courtesy of presenting sponsors such as FirstBank, Thunderbird Charities and the Freeport McMoRan Foundation, which are providing $180,000 in incentive prizes across the state.
Prize categories include most dollars raised for micro, small, mid-size and large nonprofits; most dollars raised for rural nonprofit; power hours awards will be based on the number of unique donors who give more than a designated dollar amount during 60-minute periods at 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Also new this year is the “micro” category, which provides additional opportunities for nonprofits with annual revenues of less than $100,000. Purcell said the category was added at the request of smaller organizations, which comprise the majority of nonprofits in most states.
“Many of these are volunteer-run and may or may not have any full-time employees: They are made up of people who are passionate about the work being done and they are doing that work on slim budgets. Some of the people operating these micro nonprofits are doing so on the side, while working their normal 9 to 5 jobs,” Purcell said.
For 300 Southern Arizona nonprofits of all sizes — 224 of which are located in Pima County — Arizona Gives Day and the possibility of incentive prizes offer significant motivation.
“This is the first time we have done it, but Arizona Gives Day could be huge for us,” said Shelby Brawley, the founder and chief executive officer of Hoofsnhorns Farm Sanctuary, which will compete in the micro category. “People in our community have always been so generous by donating this gate and that piece of fence, but our fence has been recycled so many times and we need a major fundraising to build a decent perimeter wall to keep out predators.”
Founded more than 20 years ago, the sanctuary (www.hoofsnhornsfarm.org) became a nonprofit in 2013. It accepts goats, cows and sheep as well as horses, donkeys, pigs and other animals. The majority of the animals have special medical needs or require specialized care.
“Lots of the animals that come here have no other options: We are the last stop for them. Many rescue organizations can recoup fees by rehabbing animals and finding them homes, but we don’t have that option. We are somewhere between a hospital, hospice and retirement home,” said Brawley.
Since veterinary and food costs comprise a majority of operating expenses, the $10,000 to build a perimeter fence is cost-prohibitive for the sanctuary, Brawley said.
“Often you feel like you are competing with so many big nonprofits, but a rescue partner said that Arizona Gives Day has really helped them and other small nonprofits, so we are thrilled to be able to participate and hopefully get our name out there,” she said.
The fundraising effort presents an opportunity to promote awareness for nonprofits in need of exposure, said Rob Lester, director of development and community relations for Higher Ground A Resource Center (www.higherground.me).
Higher Ground, which provides behavioral health and social-emotional learning to at-risk youth suffering from the effects of childhood trauma and poverty, will participate in the mid-sized category (annual revenues between $250,000 and $1 million) .
The organization will also host an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Higher Ground, 101 W. 44th St. “Our biggest thing is getting the word out. We thought it would be a good day to showcase some of the activities that we do. People can walk through our program and get a taste of what Higher Ground is all about: They can see our staff at work and see how much the kids love coming here,” Lester said.
Since its inception 10 years ago, Higher Ground has grown from an after-school jiu jitsu and homework-help program for 60 kids into a youth development organization that serves about 2,000 students annually in the Tucson Unified and Sunnyside school districts as well as local charter schools. It also provides services to youths through the Pima County Juvenile Court Center.
Higher Ground’s programs include a wide range of recreational activities, the arts, STEM, mentoring, community building and leadership through both in-school and after-school initiatives.