More to Give.
It just keeps getting better and better.
“Omaha Gives! has great momentum coming off three years of success,” said Todd Simon, OCF board chair and Omaha Steaks senior vice president. “What we’ve done is create a community platform everyone can share in.”
Community engagement is key to the continuing success of the event, and remains its biggest aspiration for its fourth year, OCF President and CEO Sara Boyd said. “We hope this can be a big, fun celebration for people, but it’s also a very cost-efficient way for nonprofits to engage donors.”
Giving is easy
The fundamentals of the 2016 Omaha Gives!, presented again by American National Bank, are the same as in previous years: Starting at midnight on Wednesday, May 25, participants visit the website at omahagives24.org, select from a list of registered nonprofits, and make a donation of $10 or more using a credit card, debit card, electronic funds transfer or OCF account. Donors can support as many nonprofits as they like.
Hourly drawings (Omaha Steaks-Steaks for Good is the returning hourly prize sponsor), participation prizes and a real-time leaderboard stimulate a friendly spirit of competition. With multiple incentives, even the smallest and newest nonprofits can win.
But there are new elements this year, too, Boyd said, that consider ease and convenience of technology, how the event coordinates with nonprofits’ fundraising strategies and efforts to keep the event fresh.
“Feedback is important to us, and we continue to tweak and refine the event. That’s based on real experience, it’s not just a hunch,” she explained. “We’re very receptive to feedback on what works and what doesn’t.”
In with the new
So for the first time this year, donors have the option to set up a recurring donation throughout the year. There’s also a suggested nonprofit feature that lets donors know about the giving choices of other supporters, similar to what consumers see on buying sites, Boyd said. “It creates a different opportunity to bring visibility to nonprofits that individuals may not have otherwise been exposed to.”
And one of the most exciting new features is the ability to create personal fundraising campaigns within the system and get the word out via social media and email, Boyd added. “We wanted to allow individuals to be more vocal advocates for the causes and organizations they support…We’ve seen this in other communities and it seems to have broadened the engagement in the community.”
Omahagives24.org serves as a year-round portal to connect with and give to nonprofits. Only the donations made from April 1 through May 25 count toward the Omaha Gives! total and incentives, but community members can use the convenient technology already in place to support their selected nonprofits on any date.
The other 364 days
Mike Cassling, OCF board member and CEO of CQuence Health, a key supporter of Omaha Gives! since its beginning, said the event’s influence is intended to extend well beyond May 25.
“It’s not just one day, it’s an ongoing process,” he said. “The goal from the beginning is driving awareness, and Omaha is such a great giving community. Making sure we’re driving awareness to all levels and all age groups is part of why I love Omaha Gives!. If we get more and more people involved and more nonprofits—and more importantly, continue to teach and grow our nonprofits so they can grab these new donors and cultivate them—that’s success.”
Last year’s event generated more than $8.8 million from 20,000-plus donors supporting 704 nonprofits with more than 47,000 donations, Boyd said. “We found last year that 46 percent of the gifts were still a first-time gift to one of the participating organizations.”
“The best outcome for the community is that the people who donate for the first time during Omaha Gives! will continue to donate throughout the year and that the people in the community will use Omaha Gives! to find new organizations that are worthy of their support,” Simon said.
“It’s not about how many more millions of dollars we can grow year over year, because we’re going to hit a threshold. It’s really driving that personal involvement and the growth of the nonprofits,” Cassling said. OCF even supports participating nonprofits with a toolkit that helps them stimulate participation in Omaha Gives! and retain donor interest for the future, he added. “It’s creating a system and creating an awareness; if they gave you a donation, keep talking to them. Keep educating them.”
Boyd added: “I would say that one of the objectives that we are appreciating more than probably we did at the outset with Omaha Gives! is the role we feel this event can play in strengthening nonprofits’ ability to reach a new pipeline of donors…The goal has always been around creating new donors, first and foremost, much more so than about the total amount of money raised; participation is the heart and soul of this event. I think we’re coming to greater understanding of not only engaging new donors for this event, but how we help the nonprofits translate these into longer-term relationships.”
All giving matters
Seventy-nine percent of last year’s donations were $100 or less, Boyd said, so Omaha Gives! supporters are not major philanthropists. And they don’t have to be to make a difference.
“All giving matters,” she said. “There is no gift too small, and as a community we can make amazing things happen.”
“We are so thrilled that Omaha Gives! is planting seeds of philanthropy in the community and we’re thrilled to support a project that’s really helping to advance the capacity of the community,” Simon said.
Boyd agreed that the success of Omaha Gives! has been a positive reflection on the entire community.
“Part of it is our community’s culture; there’s a positive orientation to giving that is unique. There are generous people in other communities, but I think the way we socialize in our community revolves a lot more about what we can do for the community than elsewhere. With that as the foundation and Omaha Gives! as the means to unleash more of that potential, we’ve been really blown away by the unprecedented success of this event,” she said. “It’s not our success as the Omaha Community Foundation’s to boast, it’s really the community’s success. Let’s challenge ourselves to continue to demonstrate to the entire country how special Omaha is and how powerful it is when we give together.”
“Let’s challenge ourselves to continue to demonstrate to the entire country how special Omaha is and how powerful it is when we give together.”
~ Sara Boyd
President and CEO
Omaha Community Foundation