Sunday, April 17, 2011

World Give Day - May 4, 2011

I was invited by my friends at Give Forward to participate in a blog series they are hosting at in honor of World Give Day < > .

World Give Day is an annual day of giving that encourages people to give whether it is a donation, their time, or even a hug. The goal of this day is to encourage the culture of giving.

Since I’ve led an organization for 37 years that has depended on the contributions of time, talent and dollars from many people, I’m delighted to write about this.

In fact, I’ve been writing about the challenges of making mentor-rich non-school tutor/mentor programs available in hundreds of locations for the past 18 years in my role as leader of Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

I hope you’ll take some time to read some of the past articles.

The challenge of a non-profit leader is the same challenge I had as an advertising manager of the Montgomery Ward Corporation, yet larger.

At Wards during the 1980s we had a $250 million advertising budget to reach out to 20 million people three times each week with advertising intended to draw customers to our 400 stores located in 40 states. In these ads we provided a range of merchandise and services that we knew some people were looking for each week. We also provide incentives to motivate people to come to our store instead of someone else's store. These included HALF PRICE, NO MONEY DOWN, LIMITED TIME ONLY and many similar messages.

In the non-profit sector each organization competes with each other on a daily basis for dollars and volunteers and public attention and few have the advertising budgets that are available in for profit corporations. At the same time as they are searching for dollars to pay the expenses they also are innovating ways to use the dollars effectively to provide public benefit.

Few non-profits have the ability to say HALF PRICE SALE, or THIS WEEK ONLY.
Thus most don’t have the consistent involvement of volunteers and donors that are essential to build and sustain the work each program is trying to do.

That’s why events like World Give Day are important. Someone is taking the lead on May 4 to motivate people all over the world to seek out a charity to support. Give Forward is taking an important role by encouraging bloggers to write about this, thus expanding the “advertising reach and frequency” that is needed to attract the attention of millions of people who might make small donations of time, talent or dollars to fuel the work of a non-profit.

Give forward is taking an important role. They support giving by small scale donors by being a portal that enables donors to set up campaigns to raise money for health related causes. They support those donors by helping raise visibility for giving, through blog exchanges such as this.

We’ve used in the past two years to raise more than $40,000 for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection from hundreds of small scale donors. The Cabrini Madness campaigns empower our students and volunteers to be advertisers who tell the ‘tutor/mentor story” to friends, family and co-workers.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection supports the involvement of volunteers and donors by maintaining a map-based Directory of Chicago organizations that offer various forms of tutoring/mentoring in different neighborhoods of Chicago. T/MC also hosts a library of links to web sites of these organizations and to information that people can use to understand why and where tutor/mentor programs are most needed. We don’t yet have a giving feature tied to the maps that works like Give Forward, but we’d like to add this if we can find the money, or a technology partner.

If World Give Day and the weight of many bloggers can draw a few more donors to the t/mc directory, some of those will end up adding new funds and talent to help Cabrini Connections, as well as many other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago.

This is a good thing.

However, it will be even better if the following happens.

a) Groups of people who support the goal of tutor/mentor programs will begin to innovate ways to duplicate Wards Sears, McDonalds and other businesses, to create events 365 days of the year that draw the attention of the world to small charities doing needed work

b) Some of these groups will see the value of map directories and portals like the T/MC and will add their own time, talent and dollars to help innovate more ways that we can draw volunteers and donors directly to programs, the way mass merchants draw shoppers to stores. Help us build this capacity and help us share this with people in other cities.

c) People focused on other social benefit causes will see that the T/MC concept can duplicate in other sectors and will reach out to partner with us for their own self-interest

Margaret Mead talked about how a “few people can change the world”. Events like World Give Day can reach millions of people and inspire them to spread their time, talent and dollars to all corners of the earth where they can become part of the few, the proud, the difference makers.

This post is part of a blog series inspired by World Give Day and hosted by GiveForward. To find other posts in this series please visit World Give Day

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