W. PA Foundation Raises $575K During ‘Giving Week’

SHARON, PA. – The Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio’s executive director was pleased with the results of the foundation’s inaugural Giving Week fundraiser.

The campaign, which ran July 25 to 31, raised $575,015 for local charities. Of that, $442,105 was from donors, $130,000 was from matching funds provided by local foundations and $3,000 was given in six “challenge” categories.

A total 986 donations were made during the weeklong campaign, the foundation reported. 

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while now,” said Kyle English, Community Foundation executive director. He had initially expected about $250,000 in donations, so a total nearly double that figure “blew a lot of us away,” he said. 

Because of safety measures about gatherings to fight the coronavirus pandemic, many organizations are limited in their ability to hold traditional fundraisers, English said. At the same time, many of those same organizations have seen needs increase since the pandemic arrived in the area. 

The Hope Center for Arts and Technology in Sharon received the most money from the drive, $99,268, including $76,325 in donations, a $22,443 match and $500 for having a donor the farthest distance from the foundation’s offices in Sharon. 

Buhl Park in Hermitage received the second largest total, $91,725, with $70,883 in direct donations and the rest in matching funds.  

Donors were invited to make donations for specific local not-for-profit organizations serving the Mahoning and Shenango valleys. Providing matching funds were the FNB Community Foundation, Zekelman Fund, Winner Foundation, O’Brien Children Memorial Fund and Strimbu Memorial Fund. 

The Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio considered holding the drive earlier but recognized that some of the federal pandemic relief money that organizations had received would be going away at the end of July. The federal funding, which the organizations will receive this week, “hopefully will bridge the gap between the next round of stimulus or the next round of help from the federal government,” English said. 

The initiative also was intended to provide an opportunity for the organizations to market via social media. The organizations could receive $500 challenge donations from the Community Foundation in six categories, such as receiving the first or gift, most unique donors or having the 81st overall donor, in recognition of the foundation’s establishment in 1981.

The foundation is looking to host the event annually and there already have been requests for next year, English said. 

“It just really speaks to the generosity of our region,” he said. “If you give people a chance to give back, it’s been proven again and again our community members stand up to help our neighbors.” 

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.