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VOL. 132 | NO. 8 | Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Nonprofits Find a Winner in Grit. Grind. Give.

By Don Wade

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The national #GivingTuesday movement had started in 2012 in New York on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It was, and remains, a global giving effort riding the power of social media as a way to respond to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

When Jaclyn Suffel joined the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence here in September of 2015, she almost immediately began talking with Alliance CEO Nancy McGee about doing something similar here, but with Memphis branding.

And so was born Grit. Grind. Give. It was small effort in 2015, but in 2016 the Nov. 29 Memphis version of GivingTuesday brought in $220,000, and that’s just a preliminary figure. Suffel says the national office of GivingTuesday is still sorting through all the data.

“They got input from 28 different, major, donation websites,” she said. “And we’re still waiting for them to get back to us on PayPal and it’s the one the majority of our members use. The $220,000 mark doesn’t include anything that was processed through PayPal or the mail or before GivingTuesday or after and marked GivingTuesday. And St. Jude is not included in that because they have their own specialized platform.

“It can only go up,” she said. “I’m hoping we get more towards the $500,000 mark. But that might be a little ambitious, we’ll see.”

For Grit. Grind. Give., the alliance partnered with the city of Memphis, JustMyMemphis, cityCurrent, New Memphis, Leadership Memphis, Choose901, 901Rocks, Volunteer Odyssey and the Association for Funding Professionals.

Nancy McGee

The timing, McGee says, was a good fit with the way nonprofits approach potential donors. And offered a “unified” way to approach donors.

“There’s usually a big push to get people to give before the end of the year because they get that tax deduction,” McGee said. “A lot of organizations are really focused on that year-funding and this helps.”

McGee notes that, despite what the public might believe, nonprofits are more dependent on individual donations – no matter the source – than they are grants. And Grit. Grind. Give. feels personal.

“That’s kind of what’s cool about this campaign,” Suffel said. “It’s social-media driven, so it’s a lot of story sharing and inspirational testimonials people are sharing online and promoting giving through that. This movement is really to try and attract a new generation of donors and start cultivating behaviors and the next set of people that will be sustaining these nonprofits for years to come.”

At the time of the campaign, the alliance had 217 members and all received at least a mention as part of Grit. Grind. Give. But about 40 of them, including the Salvation Army, MOST and the Brooks Museum of Art, prepared special videos. The nonprofits also showed potential donors how far just $25 could go toward helping them with their respective missions.

The alliance’s partnership with 901Rocks resulted in painting rocks with the names and logos of about 275 nonprofits and hiding the rocks around town. Suffel says the rocks included QR codes directing the rocks’ finders to the alliance’s website where there was specific information on Grit. Grind. Give.

“We have a really distinct city brand,” Suffel said. “We’re very generous, the third-most generous city in the nation. So we talked about that spirit and that we’re ‘all heart,’ and we used that tagline a lot. The ongoing joke was that if I can just get (Grizzlies player Tony Allen) to promote Grit. Grind. Give., then I can retire and move to Florida.

“Our city has a spirit about it that lends itself to giving back, lends itself to celebrating what makes Memphis, Memphis,” said Suffel. “And folks see the nonprofits as an important part of that.”

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