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Big Day, Bigger Impact - An Interview with Linda Cutler

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Author:
Valley Vision Staff

The Big Day of Giving, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s initiative to grow local philanthropy, is coming up tomorrow, May 4! Since its inception, the online giving challenge has raised more than $16 million for local nonprofits from over 36,000 donors here in the Sacramento region and abroad. Talk about impact!

I had the chance to ask the Foundation’s CEO, Linda Cutler, some questions about the impact that the campaign has had on our communities. Read on!

1. What was your inspiration for getting involved in the world of philanthropy?

My family has always been involved in the community and supported nonprofits financially and as volunteers to the degree that we could. But, I always wanted to do more. So, I was ecstatic when I was given the opportunity to lead the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. Since joining SRCF I am reminded daily of the important work that our region’s nonprofits do to improve the quality of life for all of us. Now, more than ever, we must be united in supporting the nonprofits that make this community our home.

2. What is the value of the Big Day of Giving to our communities?

There is the obvious benefit of raising much needed funds, but the value goes well beyond that. The training and the rigor that the nonprofits go through in order to participate provides much needed capacity building that has strengthened our nonprofit sector and encouraged collaboration among the participants. Big Day has also made philanthropy accessible to all,  demonstrating that even a small donation, when part of a larger effort, can make a big impact. Year after year, we see the majority of gifts range from $25-$50, and this year we are lowering the minimum donation to $15 to encourage even more giving. Finally, the Big Day of Giving has become a source of regional pride. There are so many great things happening here, including generosity.

3. What are some of the tangible outcomes that have come from the annual campaign?

The most tangible outcome has been the $16M raised for our nonprofit organizations. We also hear so many stories of how the Big Day of Giving has provided a platform for groups that were virtually unknown to gain visibility and the skills to grow and succeed in ways they couldn’t imagine prior to the Big Day of Giving.

4. In what way did last year’s technical issues with the giving platform change this year’s initiative?

First, let’s remember that despite the nationwide technical issues this region rallied to raise $7.1M, beating our goal by more than $1M. But of course, we don’t want a repeat of that again. We have changed technology platforms and are no longer part of a national giving day - our technology provider will be focusing just on us, so if issues arise, we will have their full attention.

We also learned that although the Big Day of Giving is primarily an online event, there are some folks who want to participate but would rather donate by phone or offline directly to the nonprofit. So, this year we are making provisions for accepting those donations as well.

5. How does the amount of giving that we see with Big DOG compare to giving in other regions?

The Sacramento Region compares very well to other regions’ giving days. We are not the largest, but when we were part of the national day of giving we consistently were in the top five in money raised, donors and donations and participating nonprofits. More importantly however, is that the Big Day of Giving is recognized among our peers as one of the best organized and managed efforts in the country. Foundation staff, especially Jeannie Howell and Priscilla Enriquez, are frequently asked to participate on national panels or provide counsel and training to communities just launching their giving day. In fact, we have a visitor from Australia in our office this week, shadowing our team to see how the pros do it!

6. How do you see philanthropy changing in the next five years as technology evolves?

We have seen technology encourage a more diversified donor pool, which is a wonderful thing. Making philanthropy available to all is one of the Foundation’s strategic goals and technology is a big part of that.

7. How can I get involved in tomorrow’s big event?

GIVE!!! Go to bigdayofgiving.org and support any of the 600 participating organizations and encourage your family, friends and colleagues to do so as well. In past years we’ve seen donations to our local groups from all 50 states as well as foreign countries so don’t limit your outreach to just our area. CELEBRATE!!! Check out the events section of the website to see all the parties that the nonprofits are hosting all over the region. Go, have fun and support them. USE SOCIAL MEDIA!!! #BDOG2017