The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region manages more than $17 million in endowments and gives 41 scholarships to local students each year.
But the foundation is best known for The Community Give, an annual 24-hour fundraising marathon held in May.
“People started calling our organization The Community Give,” said Lisa Biever, director of donor services for the Community Foundation.
The popular event attracted thousands of donors and raised more than $1 million for charities in the Fredericksburg area this year.
“It’s my favorite day of the year,” said Andie McConnell, director of the Fairy Godmother Project. “It’s a full day of being validated, of having people say the work we do is valuable. It’s such a feel-good day.”
While The Community Give is marketed as a 24-hour fundraising marathon, it takes about six months of full-time work to organize, so the agency that runs the event has shelved the give-a-thon for 2017.
The Community Foundation will instead focus on celebrating its 20th anniversary, Director Teri McNally said.
The foundation began in 1997 when a group of area residents wanted to create a way “to grow philanthropy in our community,” McNally said.
The Community Foundation now hosts 125 charitable funds, including grants for protecting the environment and gifts to help families in need. The foundation also runs a Youth in Philanthropy program that helps teens learn about donating to charity.
Three years ago, the foundation began offering the Community Give as part of a national effort known as Give Local America.
The local event also included social media training for nonprofits and workshops on attracting and retaining donors.
“Each year, the nonprofits just blow us away with their creativity and their passion,” Biever said. “So we’re excited to see what they are going to do next.”
The end of the event will create a void for nonprofits, said McConnell. Her organization, which helps families dealing with pediatric cancer, received nearly $40,000 from this year’s event. More importantly, McConnell said, the Fairy Godmother Project netted 300 new donors.
“That’s huge for a small nonprofit like us,” she said. “It was a very, very successful day.”
She understands why the foundation decided not to host the event next year, but hopes that a group will step forward to provide a similar level of exposure for nonprofits.
The event not only raised money, but also provided encouragement and camaraderie for charity workers.
“The Give itself brought the nonprofits together in a way that nothing else could, and that really helped our community,” McConnell said. “We competed against each other—but in a good-natured way. The foundation has given all of the local nonprofits the tools to be successful. Now we’re challenged to go out and use them.”