By Nancy Astor Fox
Late last summer, I was already being inundated with emails urging me to prepare for #givingtuesday. As I explained in an article published in eJewish Philanthropy in August, my inbox was overflowing with ideas, webinars and other well-meaning resources to enhance the fundraising for that day. As a development professional, my initial reaction was to read each email and evaluate the best practices to consider. As a donor to many other nonprofits, my thought was “not again.”
And so, instead of doing our usual #givingtuesday email campaign, JEVS Human Services instituted #doingtuesday as a way to put our own touch on this global day of giving. Our goal was to emphasize the power of DOING as well as of GIVING. As promised in my last article, here is what we can share about this very special Tuesday.
What did we DO November 28th?
Our day began with volunteers gathering to create winter care bags for our clients and their families. Packages included a collection of items generously donated by companies and individuals during the month of November. Our entire agency became involved (one colleague personally crocheted dozens of hats and scarves), and collection boxes were set up, not only in our offices, but in other businesses across our community.
Watching some volunteers working to coordinate the perfect hat and scarf combination and others thoughtfully writing special messages on the personalized notes reinforced the notion of how much people care and how much they want to DO for others. Each one of us thought about the clients who would be receiving these packages and wanted to ensure that we were DOING our best to make every detail as special as possible for the recipients. I had the added joy of watching some young adults with disabilities, members of the Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN), JEVS’ supported independent living program, helping some of our more “senior” volunteers in making sure that each bag had all of the essential items.
In just under an hour, we filled almost 200 bags with brand new hats, gloves, scarves, socks, blankets, lotion, tissues, handwritten notes and even stuffed animals (for the children’s’ bags). Still more bags will be packaged in the coming days as the donations are still pouring in to our agency.
At noon, fifty of us came together to participate in a series of mock interviews to give participants and clients the chance to practice their skills with supportive coaches. We had volunteers from our staff, Board and corporate partners each provide interviews for job seekers from five of our programs. One of our key staff members gave post-interview training and taught each one of us some important life lessons about perseverance and resiliency. We all knew that what we were DOING was making a real difference in the lives and futures of those individuals seated across from us. We are even hopeful that a few of these interviews may lead to full time employment for our clients.
Our #doingtuesday activities ended with a wonderful networking session with our AmeriCorps TechServ Scholars and a group of leaders in the IT field in our city. Listening to the AmeriCorps members telling why they chose to participate in a year of service, and why they are bringing STEM education to students living in “tech deserts” in our inner city, provided us with the best example of what we hoped to experience on #doingtuesday. These young adults are #doing and #giving each and every day as a part of their service to our community.
And now to the question of how did we DO? Since fundraising is about metrics and outcomes, I will let the numbers speak for themselves:
We collected 1,336 new items and an additional 700 “gently” used items to include in the winter care packages lovingly created for our clients and their families.
We gathered 72 volunteers, many of them brand new to our organization, to help us create these packages, conduct these mock interviews, and participate in these networking sessions. Still more will be recruited to help deliver these packages to our clients in the coming weeks.
We received more financial donations for our #doingtuesday campaign than we ever did from our traditional #givingtuesday email requests. These financial contributions allowed us to supplement the numerous donated items we received and resulted in 200 these lovingly created winter care packages.
We interacted directly with 55 members and participants from six our programs. This included the young adults with disabilities, out of school youth who are engaged in our programs to get their lives back on track, more “senior” clients who are seeking employment, young adults in our diversion program who are working with us instead of going to prison as well as the remarkable Americorps members. We will have many more interactions when we deliver these packages to families throughout Philadelphia.
Lastly, to quote the oft-repeated commercials on television, what was the true impact for our volunteers and clients? PRICELESS.
Why #doingtuesday? I asked this in my original article and, at that time, wrote that we hoped to engage our donors, and non-donors, in hands on activities to directly help our clients. We can say, quite proudly, that this was accomplished. Our goal was, and still is, to inspire them to become involved, to learn more about our work, and, ultimately, to click that “donate now” button in December as well as other months throughout the year.
JEVS Human Services is about helping people achieve independence, live with dignity and find their own path to self-sufficiency. We were founded over 76 years ago to help refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. We have remained committed to this mission and have expanded to help thousands of people each year. We are excited to share our mission with many others as we work toward our next 76 years. We hope that #doingtuesday will continue to encourage many more to get involved with our work and share our story.
We know that there is not one way to give – and we were looking to capitalize on this wonderful day of giving by adding a bit of “doing” as well. We plan to DO this again next year on #givingtuesday and invite you to join us in DOING our best to make a difference in our global communities.
Nancy Astor Fox is the Chief Development Officer of JEVS Human Services in Philadelphia, PA. JEVS enhances the employability, independence and quality of life of individuals through a broad range of programs. Consistent with its core principles and entrepreneurial spirit, JEVS creates innovative and sustainable solutions to address current and future needs. Throughout its work, JEVS Human Services embodies the highest level of tzedakah: to help an individual to become independent. For more information, visit www.jevshumanservices.org.