Lakers give back for Giving Tuesday

GVL / Courtesy -

GVL / Courtesy –

Sanda Vazgec

The end of November is reserved for some of the most chaotic days of the year. To combat the madness of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday focuses on helping others.

Grand Valley State University’s Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy teamed up with the city of Grand Rapids to introduce a new Giving Tuesday initiative called GRgives.

The campaign is designed to help provide a platform for local nonprofit businesses in the Grand Rapids area.

While GRgives helps local residents find nonprofits to donate to, Stephanie Adams, marketing and communications manager for the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, said the movement is not only about raising money.

“It’s not just about gaining dollars, it’s about creating awareness, gathering volunteers and really highlighting how philanthropy can benefit a community,” Adams said.

Instead of setting a monetary goal for the first year of the campaign, organizers instead aimed to get 50 local nonprofits involved. This goal was quickly surpassed as 240 local nonprofits signed up.

Participants included: John Ball Zoo, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Ronald McDonald House of West Michigan, Family Promise and Sunny Crest Youth Ranch among others.

The campaign used social media as a catalyst for growth with the GRgives website and Facebook page both reaching over 3,000 people.

The website also features a portal where local residents can pledge their time to volunteer within the community. Throughout the effort, 50 people have pledged to volunteer in 2017.

“We’ve had some nonprofits who’ve doubled their previous Giving Tuesday efforts,” Adams said. “Some have raised more volunteers than they’ve had in years before.”

Lake Michigan Credit Union used the GRgives movement as an opportunity to support local nonprofits by donating $10,000 to West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, Kids Food Basket, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, West Michigan Refugee Education and Cultural Center, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute and Ronald McDonald House of West Michigan.

GRgives efforts have impacted nonprofits in an positively overwhelming way as many have exceeded their goals for Giving Tuesday.

Kate O’Keefe, community relations and development manager for Family Promise, said their organization surpassed its target.

“We were trying to raise $3,500 to get a family through shelter and housed. We ended up raising almost $5,000,” O’Keefe said. “We are so grateful for such a giving community and to the GRgives initiative for bringing us all together and working towards a greater Grand Rapids community.”

The Johnson Center for Philanthropy doesn’t plan to stop at Giving Tuesday. Adams said the center has plans for promoting more volunteering and highlighting the work being done in Grand Rapids throughout the year.