Baltimore businesses prepare for #GivingTuesday

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— At least 15 businesses and nonprofits are doing more than just encouraging Charm City residents to open their hearts and wallets; they are joining forces to help raise $5 million to benefit Baltimore charities on GivingTuesday— better known as #GivingTuesday.

The second annual #GivingTuesday initiative, which takes place on December 3, 2013 seeks to raise funds to benefit local charities and to make the city, whose slogan for the 2013 event is, “Bmore Gives More,” the most generous in the nation on that day.

“Our mission at GiveCorps is to build an army of givers to power their communities. We’re creating a culture of contribution in our beloved hometown of Baltimore, and in the college and university communities we serve,” said Jamie N. McDonald, the founder and president of GiveCorps, which provides institutions of higher education the power to motivate connected constituents to give, act and share.

GiveCorps officials are leading the “#GivingTuesday” effort and have brought together a diverse group of organizations, including The Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Constellation, the United Way of Central Maryland, Maryland Nonprofits, and the office of the Mayor and Business Volunteers Maryland, to raise awareness for the initiative and to help reach the $5 million fundraising goal.

The initiative started nationwide in 2012. Following the pattern of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Henry Timms, the deputy director of the Jewish Community Center 92nd Street Y, and Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, came up with the idea to create a national day of giving

“When we learned about the inaugural ‘#GivingTuesday’ campaign last year, we were motivated by its mission to generate as much passion for giving during the holiday season as there is for shopping,” McDonald said.

“The funds raised had a real impact on many Baltimore charitable organizations, providing much-needed resources to serve those in need. And we were not alone, across Baltimore; organizations launched ‘#GivingTuesday’ campaigns. In fact, our colleagues at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore led the country as the biggest ‘#GivingTuesday’ fundraiser, raising $1 million,” she said.

The campaign kicked off on October 25 during the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore’s Fall Fling at the Inner Harbor.

The $5 million goal might be ambitious, but it’s achievable, and it will make a difference for those in need, McDonald said.

“Baltimore City is proud to stand alongside GiveCorps and its partners as they rally Baltimoreans to donate on one single day to raise money to benefit our local charities and programs that do so much good for our community,” said Baltimore City Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “During this season of giving, I encourage those who can give, consider donating to the cause or program that means the most to them on Dec. 3 to benefit those in need,” the mayor said.

On December 3, residents will be asked to visit: www.bmoregivesmore.com, to select the nonprofit they want their donation to benefit on #GivingTuesday. In return, those who make a donation to a nonprofit on the GiveCorps site, will receive a thank you from participating local business in the form of discounts and coupons that will be continually updated throughout the day to encourage repeat donations. Participating businesses to date include: Tapas Teatro, Birrotecca and Gertrude’s.

To make individual donations go even further on #GivingTuesday, local businesses have also signed on to sponsor matching funds. Current matching fund sponsors include Michele’s Granola and Charm City Run. Interested donors can visit the website to make a pledge to give prior to December 3 or check in to get updates on participating nonprofit projects, events and rewards sponsors.

“While our big goal is monetary, we believe that a culture of contribution is about much more than dollars. Our, ‘BMoreGivesMore,’ campaign is also an organized day of volunteering, creative community initiatives and celebration,” McDonald said.

A local ice cream maker and granola company are teaming up to create a “BMoreGivesMore,” flavor, while a local Crossfit gym is offering a special workout, she said.

Also, Constellation, one of the largest companies in the city, will sponsor a day of volunteering.

“Even though some of these efforts may not contribute to the $5 million goal, they are a huge part of building excitement for the day. Because while this national effort offers a wonderful platform to raise awareness of the importance of giving back to our communities, it’s really a means to celebrate what happens every day in a big way. It’s truly growing into a local army of givers,” McDonald said.