After five years and millions of dollars raised for area nonprofit organizations, The Amazing Raise is ending.
The fundraising effort, created in 2011 by The Community Foundation Serving Richmond & Central Virginia, “had a good five-year run,” said Sherrie Brach, the organization’s president and CEO. Now, however, the group will focus its efforts on finding new ways to help nonprofits raise needed funds.
To Sally Graham, executive director of Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, saying goodbye to the program will be tough.
“The Amazing Raise benefitted the nonprofit community, including Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, in so many ways,” Graham said, noting that it wasn’t simply about the amount of money they were able to raise.
“The Amazing Raise helped us build public awareness, network with other nonprofits, engage donors in a competitive but fun way, and hone our social media skills,” Graham said. “Our focus is on educating our community about our services and the impact our work has on our neighbors. Participating in the Amazing Raise aligned with those goals while helping us increase support. We will continue our current fundraising efforts and look forward to partnering with the Community Foundation in the future.”
When The Amazing Raise began in 2011, small organizations had limited access to online giving, and some donors were hesitant to give online. That picture has changed with advances in technology.
Brach said she is proud of what The Amazing Raise was able to accomplish but also is focused on the future.
“We’ve built some capacity,” Brach said. “We’ve been a leader in that space. We’ve raised over $7 million. It’s hit the mark in giving nonprofits more capacity in online giving. It’s time to think about the next thing we can evolve to.”
During the five years of Richmond’s fundraising event in September, national attention has gravitated to Giving Tuesday in the week after Thanksgiving. The Community Foundation plans to support local nonprofits in efforts to promote Giving Tuesday, Brach said, although details remain to be determined.
“You don’t want to be duplicating efforts. You want to connect to the things you think will ultimately grow,” Brach said. “Giving Tuesday is the one that is getting a lot of national traction.”
One of the original goals of The Amazing Raise was to build awareness of and participation in GiveRichmond among donors and nonprofits, Brach added. More than half of the estimated 1,200 nonprofit organizations in the area have profiles now on GiveRichmond, she said. “We have the big ones and many small ones. It’s a pretty rich database.”
Participation in The Amazing Raise had leveled off in terms of active participants, so that most of the $150,000 in baseline prize money provided by The Community Foundation each year was claimed by about 30 of the most engaged organizations, Brach added.
In 2015, the foundation’s total investment in The Amazing Raise reached $200,000, including the cost of prizes, technology, and an estimated 700 hours in staff time, said spokeswoman Kim Russell.
An announcement sent to Amazing Raise participants about the event ending said that The Community Foundation “will continue to be a community thought leader and facilitate opportunities that bring donors and nonprofits together to create long-term impact for the region.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch staff writer Katherine Calos contributed to this report.