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Editorial: Raising money for worthy causes

Philanthropic giving is not only the responsibility of the wealthy but an opportunity for all who care about uplifting communities and worthy causes. Give Day Tampa Bay, which takes place on Tuesday, is an online fundraising campaign designed to spark philanthropic giving in young people and other first-time givers. Its beneficiaries are local nonprofits in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties that range from schools to animal shelters. Organizers hope to raise $1 million in what they expect to become an annual event. This is a worthwhile effort that the entire community should support.

The idea for Give Day Tampa Bay came from E. Tyler Cathey and Jess Joaquin Johnson, two friends who pitched a plan to create a local culture of giving at a forum sponsored last summer by the Florida Next Foundation. The men discovered that the bay area ranks 250th among 366 major metropolitan areas for charitable giving. And among the country's 50 largest metropolitan areas, the bay area ranks 36th in giving. Some of the least likely to donate locally are 20- to 40-year-olds, who send money out of state but traditionally don't give where they live. Cathey and Johnson set out to change that. They partnered with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, which had plans to start a local day of giving and serves as the umbrella organization for the 24-hour event.

More than 380 charities signed up to participate. All are registered nonprofits and offer services in the four-county bay area region. Some are household names such as United Way while others are lesser-known entities such as People for Haiti, an organization dedicated to providing support in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. Beginning at midnight on May 6, potential donors can visit, select an organization they would like to support and make a gift using a credit or debit card. The campaign also leans heavily upon social media and has a mobile app for users who want to give on the go.

Give Day Tampa Bay aligns with a national community-focused fundraising effort. A similar event, for example, is scheduled Tuesday to benefit Sarasota-area charities. That effort raised $2.78 million in 2013.

It's easy to reason that someone else will step up for charity or that giving is a luxury limited to those with large disposable incomes. But fundraising for recent political campaigns has demonstrated the power of small gifts gathered in great numbers. Give Day Tampa Bay's minimum gift is $25, an amount within reach of many young people and those who have never given before. Seasoned givers should also participate on Tuesday. By harnessing the collective power of all givers, Give Day Tampa Bay offers bay area residents the opportunity to raise the area's philanthropic profile and enables charities to offer more help to those in need.

Editorial: Raising money for worthy causes 05/02/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 2, 2014 6:10pm]
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