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Giving Tuesday, annual day of fundraising, helps groups across Nevada County

Rebecca O’Neil
Staff Writer

After days of consumption — Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday — Giving Tuesday provided an opportunity for people to consider the needs of their larger community.

Wendy Willoughby, the managing director of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, said her organization compiled an itemized #GivingTuesday wish list for Nevada County and Sierra region-based organizations. The menu set up provides a simple way to see how cash donations translate to sustaining these organizations’ work.

Willoughby said her group put together a landing page where public and potential donors can go to see how their dollars translate to discounted or free services on behalf of their neighbors. The list includes organizations that focus on animal assistance, arts and culture, children and youth services, health services, and housing, as well as the environment.

“Essentially, nonprofits are businesses,” Willoughby explained. “They have a budget, revenue categories, etc., but they provide services that aren’t paid for by the recipient, so we have to find diversified ways to collect the revenue needed.”

Nonprofits do not rely on Giving Tuesday for basic operational costs, said Willoughby, adding that data collected suggests that the day garners smaller gifts, relative to other fundraisers.

“It’s really a place for donors to give smaller amounts,” Willoughby said, adding that the itemization appeals to donors who want to see exactly how their dollar is spent — as opposed to contributing to an organization’s general mission. “It’s definitely an internet phenomenon. Facebook does a matching donation of $7 million.”

Willoughby said Giving Tuesday also offers specific conduits to donate volunteer time in addition to, or in place of, cash. The day adds another revenue stream to nonprofits, as well as an annual platform to remind others of their role in the community’s overall health.

“In some ways, Giving Tuesday is about highlighting the work of local nonprofits who are able to provide free or discounted services to the public,” Willoughby said.


Jennifer Singer is the executive director for Bright Futures for Youth, an organization formed as a result of the consolidation of NEO (New Events and Opportunities) and the Friendship Club.

Singer said Bright Futures for Youth formed as a result of the two original youth-focused groups realizing that they shared similar values and could consolidate functions to “create a continuum of services throughout Nevada County.”

On one end of the spectrum, that means providing kids with a fun and safe place to be after school. If the youth require more intensive connection, they may benefit from the Friendship Club.

The all-encompassing organization broke down this year’s gifts like so — $50 for basic needs (clothing) for one young person, $150 for one month’s worth of healthy meals for one youth, and $500 for essential academic, emotional and social support programs. Singer said donors can also help purchase stamps, as well as gift cards to gas, grocery and clothing stores.

Singer said her nonprofit is “personnel heavy,” so the need for fundraising is year round.

“I hope our donors consider the work we do 365 days of the year,” Singer said. “Giving Tuesday is a nice way to focus people.”

Singer said a lot of the organization’s work has been collaborative recently, including the Distance Learning Center, which provides Wi-Fi to students who need it at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Singer said gifts given over the holiday season will help the organization continue devising creative solutions to support the region’s youth amidst the current public health crisis.


Lizette Taylor, the shelter director at Sammie’s Friends, said her animal rescue and pet adoption-oriented organization uses gifts collected on Giving Tuesday to spay and neuter cats and dogs — $50 and $100, respectively.

“We make sure our animals are rehabilitated, spayed, neutered and vaccinated,” Taylor said.

Taylor said gifts this season help Sammie’s Friends buy quality food for the animals there and ensure their quality medical care.

“Our vet bills are astronomical,” Taylor explained, adding that the nonprofit has facilitated connections between older pets and humans by offering new owners support by way of special food or medication for free.

Taylor said that although the census for dogs on-site is low because of COVID-19 inspired adoptions and foster cares, the need persists as stray dogs are picked up daily on the streets of Nevada County.

Taylor said cats have been harder to foster and harder to adopt out at this time. There are currently 94 cats and 67 kittens under the care of Sammie’s Friends.

Taylor said she is grateful for the community’s continued support as organizations like hers navigate the nuances of community service amidst COVID-19.

“The hardest thing during COVID is that Sammie’s is a very warm and friendly and fun place that people come to adopt animals,” Taylor said. “We’ve had to really dial it back and that’s been an adjustment. It’s hard to have a warm energy when you need people to: ‘stand over there,’ wear their mask and wash their hands.”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com.

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