Long Beach Gives returns with $2.2 million fundraising goal

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Long Beach Gives returns for its fourth annual 24-hour giving day on Sept. 22, with the goal of raising $2.2 million for local nonprofits.

Initially created by Julie Meenan, executive director of the Josephine S. Gumbiner Foundation as a graduate school project, and in collaboration with Michelle Byerly, executive director of The Nonprofit Partnership, the citywide online fundraising effort is meant to promote individual giving and increase sustainability in the nonprofit sector, said Long Beach Gives campaign manager Matt Guardabascio.

Modeled off of similar days of giving across the country, the event is a natural fit in Long Beach, where there is already so much support for local organizations, Guardabascio said.

In its first year, about 80 local nonprofits participated, successfully raising about $800,000. By its second year, $1.5 million was raised, and in 2021, its third year, Long Beach Gives broke the $2 million mark.

“That was kind of the indicator for us that this is sustainable, that there is really a ton of interest in this city to support the nonprofit sector,” said Guardabascio.

Not only do participating nonprofits have the opportunity to connect with new and existing donors across Long Beach, but they are able to receive professional development workshops, with the goal of better telling their stories and the stories of those they serve, said Guardabascio.

“Not only are we providing resources for the nonprofit as an entity to create marketing materials to create … a sustainable fundraising model that they can use time and time again, but we’re also doing professional development for the individuals doing that work,” Guardabascio said.

The application cycle for interested nonprofit organizations opens each March, in order to provide time for six to eight weeks of professional development. Time is also factored in to allow nonprofits to develop their fundraising campaigns while having direct access to the Long Beach Gives team for any questions or support.

This year, around 220 nonprofits are participating, and those interested in donating can easily browse the Long Beach Gives website to discover relevant organizations, Guardabascio explained.

Donors can browse by keyword, organization size, or by cause, by selecting from 16 different causes ranging from arts and culture, to education, to food security.

“The best advice I can give is, find something that speaks to you, find something that if you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you be doing in your spare time? Find that cause,” said Guardabascio.

Donors can even search by council district, and find an organization serving their neighborhoods directly.

“We noticed during the pandemic just a ton of hyper locality, all of the neighborhoods and districts really came together to get through COVID and support one another,” Guardabascio said. “We wanted to make sure that we were allowing people to continue that if that’s something that they believed in.”

With a minimum donation level of $5, contributing is accessible, especially for younger donors, said Guardabascio.

“The thought process for us is, if you can get somebody interested in supporting your cause and your mission early, then you can grow with them,” said Guardabascio. “What I love about Long Beach Gives is we’re trying to, in addition to providing an opportunity for established donors, I think it’s really cool that we’re giving younger, newer donors an opportunity to support and make a difference.”

To make giving even easier, donors can contribute beginning on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 12 a.m., and until Friday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m.

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about philanthropy, I think when people think of philanthropists, when they think of being charitable, I think a lot of people think of the McKenzie Scotts of the world,” Guardabascio said. “I think one of the things that we do, and we’re really striving for is trying to show how easy it is to make a difference and how easy it is to be a philanthropist, and how easy it is to give back to the community that you live or work in.”

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