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#GivingTuesdayNow helps nonprofits during pandemic

Credit: AJC

Giving Tuesday The day focuses on charitable giving, following the heaviest shopping week of the year.

Credit: AJC

At a time when they are needed most, nonprofits in Georgia are facing a crisis, said Karen Beavor, president and CEO of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. The coronavirus pandemic has strained nonprofits in every sector ranging from health to the arts.

On May 5, the organization is leading the state in a day of action in response to COVID-19 with a special Georgia Gives Day (GAgives) tied to #GivingTuesdayNow. Since launching in 2012, GAgives Giving Tuesday has been part of a global movement to inspire community giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, but the unprecedented situation presented by the pandemic led organizers across the country to schedule a special event to help connect the public to nonprofits.

>> Related: What is Giving Tuesday? 5 things to know about the holiday

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“A lot of times, people want to give but they don’t know how,” Beavor said. “They are looking for a vehicle or a way to do it.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its owner, Cox Enterprises, are among the local event sponsors.

Since the pandemic began, many nonprofits in Georgia have had an overwhelming demand for services. In Atlanta, the increased demand on food banks is between 200% and 300%, Beavor said. Food banks in Savannah have reported a 163% increase in people needing food, she said. The Salvation Army centers in Georgia have served an increasing number of families even as they face staffing shortages and insufficient quantities of personal protective equipment for employees, Beavor said.

With philanthropic giving amounting to only about 5% to 10% of the total budget of nonprofits, many organizations may have to tap into cash reserves, but those won’t last forever. “A lot of funding in philanthropic dollars has gone to the emergency response, so the long-term prospect of philanthropy stepping in or nonprofit reserves filling the gaps is unreasonable,” Beavor said. “We have the power as individuals to affect this with our own generosity.”

Nonprofit employees in Georgia gather at a GAgives rally in 2019 at the Woodruff Arts Center. CONTRIBUTED
Nonprofit employees in Georgia gather at a GAgives rally in 2019 at the Woodruff Arts Center. CONTRIBUTED

Many of the 3,000 nonprofits statewide that participate in the formal Giving Tuesday each fall have updated their profiles to participate in the special event on May 5.

“We really enjoy having a grassroots movement to identify people who really love the Center for Puppetry Arts and who can give and support our wonderful projects,” said Michelle Schweber, philanthropy officer for the Center for Puppetry Arts, which has been participated in Giving Tuesday for several years. With the temporary closing due to COVID-19, Puppetry Arts moved a lot of programming online, and while their reach has grown beyond the 50 states to more than 47 countries around the world, they have faced the same revenue challenges as many other arts organizations that cannot welcome guests.

>> Read More: Center for Puppetry Arts is hosting livestream performances for free

Giving Tuesday Now will include a livestream on Facebook beginning at 12 p.m. that will feature select nonprofits along with video footage of other organizations. When donors visit gagives.org to contribute, they can search by the type of cause they wish to support.

Donors now also have the option to search for volunteer opportunities, said Luiza Raposo, senior director of marketing and communications for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. A donor timeline shows how much is being raised for each organization in real time, she said, demonstrating how every donation, big or small, can make a difference.

“It is a way to love your community,” Beavor said. “It is a way to make your life better.”