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Giving Tuesday provides much-needed boost to Tampa Bay nonprofits

Jaymi Butler

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Giving Tuesday
Without being able to hold fundraising events or programs, 2020 has been a challenging year for the nonprofit sector.

Nearly every industry has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but nonprofits have been hit especially hard in 2020. 

That’s why Giving Tuesday, a day earmarked for worldwide charitable giving since its inception in 2012, took on even more significance this year, especially in the local community.

According to the Florida Nonprofit Alliance, more than 20,000 nonprofits call the Tampa Bay region home, employing 130,000 people and bringing in revenues in excess of $23.6 billion. Many of these nonprofits are struggling with access to funding and fear the long-term loss of income from canceled events, programs and fundraisers will continue into 2021, based on data gathered by the Alliance in July. 

Two members of the Catalyst’s Impact Council, a collection of carefully selected philanthropic thought leaders who are pushing the boundaries of local community impact, shared their thoughts on what Giving Tuesday meant to them this year. 

St. Petersburg Free Clinic

Sheryl Zeitler, the Free Clinic’s director of communications, said that Giving Tuesday is an important way to unite people across communities with a focus on philanthropy. 

“It allows nonprofits to highlight their important work on a day when many are thinking about where to invest to improve the lives of their neighbors in need,” she said. 

This year, the nonprofit routed supporters to its Give Hope 2020 Campaign, which raises funds for the clinic’s critical operations including assisting with food, housing and medical care for Pinellas County residents. The Free Clinic has seen its demand for emergency food triple due to the pandemic, Zeitler said earlier this year.

The nonprofit raised nearly $42,000 on Giving Tuesday through online gifts and social media. Donations to the Give Hope 2020 campaign will be accepted through the end of the year. To donate, click here

“We continue to be blown away by the community’s support of our. mission, particularly as need persists,” Zeitler said. 

To learn more about the Free Clinic’s role in the Impact Council, click here

Community Foundation of Tampa Bay

Since March, donors and partners have given more than $3.6 million to fund urgent requests on the organization’s Nonprofit Needs List that are directly related to the pandemic, according to Wilma Norton, the Foundation’s vice president for community connections.

“One of the heartening things we’ve seen is that people we work with for their charitable giving have responded in amazing ways,” Norton said. 

Giving Tuesday provided an additional opportunity to publicize the needs of local nonprofits who are serving the community in a variety of areas including housing, food, arts and culture and animal welfare. It’s especially important this year when these organizations are doing so much more to respond to the pandemic despite financial constraints, Norton noted.

“Every dollar, every donor, every need is vital this year,” Norton said. “Giving Tuesday is one more way not just to make the needs known but also to celebrate the impact our local nonprofits are having on lives disrupted by the pandemic, and the generosity of those who care about our community.”

This year, Norton encouraged donors to support the Tampa Bay Rapid Response Fund which provides funding directly to needs on the Nonprofit Needs List. There are currently 276 requests on the list totaling nearly $19 million.

“We are pleased that Giving Tuesday refocused attention on the Nonprofit Needs List and on the needs of our nonprofits in general,” she said. “That is what is most important to us.”

The Foundation has been an integral part of the St. Pete nonprofit and philanthropic landscape since it was founded in 1990, and St. Pete is the second-largest city where the Foundation operates. In the last year alone, it provided more than $5.2 million to Pinellas-based nonprofits.To find out more about its role in the Impact Council, click here.

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