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Cause an Effect

Second annual Idaho Gives puts nonprofits, big and small, center stage May 1

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In Moscow, Circles of Caring provides a safe space for sufferers of dementia and chronic illnesses. In Filer, Hardluck Hounds matches rescued pets with forever homes. Nonprofits like these serve Idaho communities from Buhl to Bonners Ferry, providing services from outdoor education to emergency shelters. But it costs money. That's why for Idaho nonprofits, whose workers make up about 10 percent of the state's labor force, the second annual Idaho Gives might as well be Dec. 25.

"This is like the Idaho nonprofit Christmas," said Nora Carpenter, Idaho Nonprofit Center executive director.

Idaho Gives is a statewide, 24-hour day of giving that takes place Thursday, May 1. The event runs through a website managed by the Idaho Nonprofit Center, where organizations, divided into Small, Medium and Large categories, gather donor contributions as small as $10 while winning prizes from a pool donated by local individuals and charities. Because the Idaho Gives platform is shared by organizations large and small from every corner of the state, it's a day when even the smallest, most remote groups can raise money on a level field with the big players. A small-town animal shelter with a shoestring operating budget will rub digital elbows with multimillion-dollar organizations like Boise Philharmonic and Treasure Valley YMCA--all while raising funds and awareness for their causes.

The inaugural Idaho Gives, May 2, 2013, saw 6,192 people made 9,415 donations. Total giving reached nearly $580,000. That day, $38,000 had been earmarked for scoreboard and donor appreciation awards to be given as bonuses to high-performing nonprofits over the course of the day, as well as Golden Ticket awards for $1,000 or $500 to be given out at random. This year, $48,000 have been earmarked for awards.

When large nonprofits with sophisticated donor outreach promote their participation in Idaho Gives, smaller organizations get access to a massively expanded donor pool for a single day. Each nonprofit gets a profile page on the Idaho Gives website, where nonprofits and donors can see organizations ranked by size and the number of individual donations.

"One of the values of organizations participating in Idaho Gives is that the entire state is thinking about nonprofits all at the same time," Carpenter said.

It's also an impetus for participating nonprofits to refine their messages and reach new volunteers and members of boards of directors. According to Carpenter, Idaho Gives is an opportunity for nonprofits to reach potential donors, but it's also a platform where they can "tell their story in a clear and compelling way."