On Thursday, April 7 at 8 a.m., it will be time to fire up the internet and have a credit card handy. No, it’s not Cyber Monday shopping or a one-day sale on Amazon.
For 12 hours, people can donate $25 or more to one or several of their favorite charities on ArkansasGives.org and each gift will be matched with additional bonus dollars toward that nonprofit.
For Catholics, there are a few names that stand out: Catholic Charities of Arkansas; Mount St. Mary Academy, Little Rock; St. Joseph School Endowment & Charitable Trust, Conway; St. Peter Church Saturday Soup Kitchen, Pine Bluff; St. Joseph Center of Arkansas, North Little Rock; and CHI St. Vincent Foundation.
“It’s a way for Arkansans to prove once again that we have great charitable hearts,” said Catholic Charities of Arkansas executive director Patrick Gallaher. “(It’s) to show a day of support for not-governmental organizations, charities in Arkansas.”
Arkansas Community Foundation hosts ArkansasGives for 587 nonprofits, which are in the state and are Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance members, as a way to boost charitable donations and for the public to say “thank you” in a big way. Last year was its first year, with $1.98 million raised by the public and an additional $2.33 million was given to the 361 nonprofits through prizes and bonus dollars, according to arkansasgives.org. The more money being donated, the higher percentage of bonus dollars will be given to the charity. For example, if a nonprofit raises 1 percent of all donations given on that day, that nonprofit will receive an extra 1 percent of bonus dollars from the foundation. The foundation is putting in $400,000 bonus pool “split among the nonprofits on a pro-rated basis,” the website said. Last year, the bonus pool was $250,000.
There is no maximum amount to donate, and up to 10 charities can be designated in a single transaction. For Catholics, it’s also a way to donate to a Catholic-based organization “in a different way,” Gallaher said.
Credit and debit cards — including Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express — are the only accepted forms of payment for donations.
“As Catholics we get touched almost every Sunday by a second collection. This gives people a chance to think about Catholic Charities and donate with a credit card,” Gallaher said. “All those millennials out there too busy to write a check and put in in a collection basket should be able to get online and make a donation to Catholic Charities this way.”
The nonprofits are ranked by sizes small, medium (which was added this year) and large, and extra money will be given to charities that raise the most in their tier and also those that have the most donors. First Security as the primary sponsor is donating $60,000 to prizes. An additional $10,000 bonus pool donated by the foundation will also be given to nonprofits that raise the most by category, for example arts and humanities or education. Though there were hourly prizes last year, the foundation confirmed there will instead be “a surprise happening at one point in the day.”
Last year, the goal was set to raise $1 million and surpassed it, which is why this year the goal is $4 million, said Sarah Kinser, chief communications officer for Arkansas Community Foundation.
Every penny of the donations (excluding standard credit card fees) submitted will go to the nonprofits. For Catholic Charities, there’s a whole host of services that it could be used for, including fighting poverty, helping to fund adoption services, mental health and substance abuse services, prison ministry, parish social ministry, social action programs and immigration services.
“Our crime victims specialist, that position serves the immigrant community, a very narrow segment of the immigrant community that’s victimized through sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking. We find ways to fully fund that position,” he said. “There is not the same number of adoptions each year. To take care of the adoptions office in years we don’t have as much adoption traffic,” donations are key. Gallaher also said its Parish Social Ministry program “does a tremendous amount of good, it doesn’t require a lot of funding, but it has no steady source of income.”
“It’s a way for us, Catholic Charities, to reach the entire state in one day,” Gallaher said.
Kirsten Dickins, director of institutional advancement at Mount St. Mary Foundation, which is the nonprofit that helps fund Mount St. Mary Academy, said any money donated through ArkansasGives will go to the school’s annual fund.
“It promotes everything from teacher salary to student programs to facilities to financial assistance. … We want to make sure we make tuition affordable; there’s a gap between tuition and the cost to educate each student,” that the school pays for, Dickins said. “It really is because of the wider community we are able to sustain and be progressive and offer the kind of education we do.”
For St. Joseph School Endowment & Charitable Trust in Conway, executive director Jacqueline Kordsmeier said the money raised will go toward the unrestricted fund in the general budget. It is the first year for Catholic Charities, St. Peter, MSM and St. Joseph to participate in ArkansasGives.
“In essence that helps every child in school because it keeps tuition as low as possible,” Kordsmeier said. The money would reach students in a variety of ways, including student programs and sports.
It’s important to give to nonprofits through ArkansasGives because it “stretches every dollar,” she added.
“One, it is to make their contribution go further because there is the bonus money given out to the charities and the reason why they’d want to give to any Catholic school, in my opinion, is to promote Catholic education and secure Catholic education for future generations,” Kordsmeier said.
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