If you live in Fayette or surrounding counties, inside Friday's newspaper you'll find a special section with a special purpose: The GoodGiving Guide.
I hope you'll take the time to read through the guide, and to learn about and participate in the GoodGiving Guide Challenge, an online-focused way to raise money for local nonprofits that will kick off today at 8 a.m. and last through the end of the year.
This is the third year of the GoodGiving Guide Challenge, a partnership between the Blue Grass Community Foundation and Smiley Pete Publishing. This is the first year that the guide will also appear in the Lexington Herald-Leader, as the project seeks to expand — geographically, in the number of nonprofits it helps and in the amount it raises.
The guide will appear this week in Smiley Pete's publications, the Chevy Chaser Magazine and Southsider Magazine. It will be inserted into the December issue of Business Lexington.
In its previous two years, the GoodGiving challenge has tapped into a strong spirit of giving in this community. Consider the upward trajectory of the challenge since it launched:
In 2011, 58 nonprofits participated, and more than $200,000 was raised, double the initial goal.
Last year, $586,000 was raised for a total of 68 nonprofits (well above the $400,000 goal).
This year, the challenge now includes 108 nonprofits in Fayette, Bourbon, Clark, Franklin, Woodford, Boyle, Madison and Scott counties. (The printed guide appears in today's Herald-Leader in those areas and in Jessamine County. If you live in another county, you can check out the challenge online at GoodGivingGuide.net.)
This year's goal is $1 million. "We are very optimistic that we will exceed that goal," said Lisa Adkins, president and CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation.
The local nonprofits represented in this year's challenge focus on a variety of important community issues: animal welfare, arts and culture, health, education, young people and more. Chances are you'll find a group or cause with which you or a member of your family can identify.
On a personal note, the GoodGiving Guide has been an easy way to get my entire family involved in charitable giving. Each of the last two years, my wife and I have set aside a pot of money for our kids to give through the challenge. We give them time to look through the guide and to select the nonprofits they'd like to help. Each year, I've been impressed with how they thoughtfully connect with and select nonprofits in very personal ways, from groups that help animals to ones that promote the arts or address bullying.
Giving through the challenge is done online, at GoodGivingGuide.net. The site also provides information about the nonprofits, including their budgets, the focus of their work and their volunteer needs.
"We're trying to build a stronger giving culture in Lexington and throughout Central Kentucky," said Adkins. "We want to make charitable giving simple, effective and even fun."
At various stages of the challenge, nonprofits can earn matching funds and grants. This includes a $75,000 "Quick Start Endowment Challenge," that will provide $7,500 endowment grants to the first 10 nonprofits to raise $7,500 through 50 contributions of $25 or more. That challenge is sponsored by Blue Grass Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The challenges and grants are tracked on the website. So are all the events connected to the challenge, and the prizes and coupons that donors can earn from local businesses, depending on how much they contribute.
Because the giving takes place online, it's a way to involve younger generations in charitable giving — and to educate local nonprofits about how to raise funds in a digital age, said Chuck Creacy, co-publisher at Smiley Pete. Nonprofits that participate in the challenge, for example, attend sessions on how to effectively use social media and email for the challenge, and for their fund-raising in general. (You'll probably see lots more about this soon in your own social media feeds, if you haven't already.)
"We want to educate people about what our nonprofits do, and what they mean to the community," Creacy said. "We also want to teach those nonprofits to fish, so to speak, to teach them how to raise funds in a modern way. The principles they learn can be applied all year round."
Creacy was inspired to bring the GoodGiving Guide idea to Lexington after he saw a similar project in Portland, Ore. He connected with the Blue Grass Community Foundation, and the effort has grown in each successive year.
"It says a lot about the community, the generosity of the people in Central Kentucky, that we're on this pace," Creacy said of this year's ambitious goal. "Because the giving is done online, the challenge really includes everybody. You don't have to be a big-ticket giver to give to charity."
GoodGiving Guide Challenge
Where: West Sixth Brewing Co., 501 West Sixth Street, Lexington
When: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.
What: The family-friendly launch party will include food trucks and soft drinks. As part of the West Sixth $666.66 challenge, $2,000 will be equally divided among three nonprofits — small, medium and large — with the most supporters at the party.
■ Make a donation at GoodGivingGuide.net and learn about nonprofits.
■ Look for updates on Twitter, @goodgivingguide, and at Facebook.com/goodgivingguide.