By ARDEN BASTIA Today more than 400-non profit organizations in Rhode Island will take part in United Way's 401Gives Campaign. The 24-hour online giving campaign runs from Thursday morning at 6 a.m. to Friday, April 2 at 6 a.m. Donations can be made at
Today more than 400-non profit organizations in Rhode Island will take part in United Way’s 401Gives Campaign.
The 24-hour online giving campaign runs from Thursday morning at 6 a.m. to Friday, April 2 at 6 a.m. Donations can be made at www.401gives.org. Donors can choose which organizations to donate to, earning additional prizes for each organization.
The first $50,000 donated to a non-profit online will be matched by the Rhode Island Foundation. This year’s event is supported by some of the state’s leading businesses like FM Global and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The inaugural 401Gives took place last April, and brought in $1.3 million to 355 nonprofits in the state.
Courtney Nicolato, CEO of United Way, drew inspiration from her time working with Texas’ nonprofit community to start 401Gives. Nicolato brought her experience from North Texas Giving Day, which raises roughly $50 million for nonprofits in the state.
The goal of United Way’s 401Gives is to help nonprofits in the state be sustainable, and help the community be more philanthropic, according to Jennifer Remmes, director of resource operations at United Way.
In an interview on Monday, Remmes said United Way had been planning 401Gives months before the pandemic hit. “We honestly thought for maybe an eighth of a second to ask are we really doing this? And yes, we had to. All of these events, galas and walks, are being cancelled and for a lot of these nonprofits, these events bring in a majority of their money and finances.”
Remmes said nonprofits were very happy to be on board last year, and even saw some organizations join last minute. “They saw the value in a virtual fundraising day,” she said.
Remmes hopes to hit $2 million in donations this year.
Over 20 Warwick non-profits will be participating, including West Bay Habitat for Humanity, Westbay Community Action, Rhode Island Parrot Rescue, Mentor RI, Junior Achievement of Rhode Island, Thrive Behavioral Health, Inc., The Gamm Theatre, House of Hope, Warwick Center for the Arts, Friends Way, Friends of the Warwick Animal Shelter, RI Parent Information Network (RIPIN), Kent Hospital, the Warwick Boys & Girls Clubs, and the Center for Mediation and Collaboration RI.
The pandemic has posed a particular challenge for the Warwick Center for the Arts. “This is a very important time for the WCFA to raise funds,” wrote director Danielle Salisbury in an email on Tuesday. “Because of the pandemic, we have had most of our revenue sources cut off.”
Warwick Center for the Arts didn’t participate in last year’s 401Gives event since the center wasn’t open, but Salisbury is looking forward to taking part this year. Salisbury said that funds raised would continue to promote the center and its many programs.
“I have had quite a few families ask me if we could provide scholarships for their children to attend our art classes and camps so one of my goals is to be able to provide financial assistance for them through donated funds. We would also like to be able to compensate our teaching artists a salary that is more inline with current standards,” she wrote in an email.
Salisbury is looking forward to opening up even further with an expanded schedule of educational and cultural events.
“We have a very loyal following of artist members, but hope to increase our donor database through this campaign,” she wrote. “We encourage friends to share what they love about WCFA so that we can widen our reach—any donation amount is appreciated.”
Last year, The Gamm Theatre raised more than $20,000 just weeks after the COVID pandemic shutdown.
“For 24 hours we were amazed and heartened to see not only how generous people were to us, but to watch what was happening all across the state,” wrote managing director Amy Gravell in a letter to the editor. “When it was being planned last year, we could not have known how our lives would be changed by the time it launched. Nor would we have guessed that the following April we would still be in the midst of the pandemic, with industries like The Gamm’s paralyzed, and others stressed to the point of breaking.”
Funds raised in this year’s 401Gives would support everything from keeping the lights on to educational programming, explained Gravell in an interview on Monday.
“In a typical year, our programs are based in literacy, but we’ve found that teachers have a significant need for something different this year,” she said. Over the last year, The Gamm Theatre has been offering virtual, and some in-person, programming based on social-emotional learning through the arts, focusing on community, self-esteem, and stress management.
“Not making the kind of art we’re here to do has been incredibly hard, but we’ve been uplifted by our supporters and donators,” said Gravell. “The collective spirit of giving that was so inspiring last year is needed just as much this year.”
For Mentor Rhode Island, this year’s 401Gives event is needed more than ever. Due to the COVID pandemic, Mentor RI had to postpone their big fundraising event, Dancing with the Stars of Mentoring, from April 2020 to November 2020. The event was held outside the Aldrich Mansion, drive-in style.
“But as it stands right now, our next big fundraiser won’t be until April or May 2022,” said Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO, in an interview on Monday. “The need for funds coming in is even greater now.”
Mentor RI participated in last year’s 401Gives event and raise $8,000. “It’s a great way to participate in the overall movement of philanthropy in the state,” she said.
Funds raised during this year’s event will be used to maintain and expand mentoring programs. This year, explained Schofield, “students will be returning to the classroom traumatized. We need to be there for the students we’re currently supporting and be able to reach new ones.”
“The most valuable thing we can give our young people are other adults outside their family that care about them and encourage them to be exceptional,” said Schofield. “All kids are exceptional and have the potential to be exceptional.”