Merlene Davis: GoodGiving challenge makes it easy to help non-profits

I have become a great fan of effortless giving. I would rather click a button on a non-profit's Web site than take the time to write a check, stick it in an envelope and mail it.

Pitiful, I know. Just being honest.

Recently I learned that I am not in a minority, for once. The sponsors of the 2012 GoodGiving Guide Challenge, a community-wide online giving campaign that begins its second end-of-the-year drive Thursday, have trained some smaller non-profits in the art of attracting people like me.

Recently, The Blue Grass Community Foundation and Smiley Pete Publications have held social media workshops for shorthanded organizations to help them increase access to potential donors. That means teaching them how to put their name and mission out there for me to see and then giving me a way to donate simply.

Brian Slate, resource coordinator for AIDS Volunteers Inc., said he attended the workshops and learned about companies that help track, design and distribute email and social media.

"The tracking was interesting," he said. "It was not something I've done. But it is something I will do more of."

Also, Slate learned that all AVOL emails should have a donation button on them, regardless of the subject of the email, he said.

"You want to make it as easy as possible to donate," he said.

He also learned that he can post to social outlets on a delayed basis, which will be helpful to him.

"I tend to be on Facebook in the mornings before leaving the house," he said. "Once I get to the office, I get busy and don't post any more."

By using the delayed posting, he could write in the mornings and dictate when the posts would appear.

Slate was so busy last year with AVOL's annual fund-raising effort, "Dining Out for Life," that he missed the opportunity to join GoodGiving, he said. He made time this year to work on both.

"This year we jumped on it," he said.

So did Tay Henderson, executive director of Lighthouse Ministries.

"Social media is what people are going to," Henderson said, "especially younger people. Mail and postcards are good, but social media, getting the email blasts, the Facebook and Twitter, that's where it is headed."

When you put out information about your organization often, Henderson said, not only do loyal donors take notice but so will potential new ones.

"People like information, and they like it fast," Henderson said. "You are really robbing yourself by not putting it out there."

Particularly this year. Lisa Adkins, president and CEO of Community Foundation, said the foundation, in its 45th year, will give $4,500 to each of the first 10 non-profits to raise that amount during this campaign. That amount will be placed in an endowment fund for each of the charities.

"That goes back to the mission of the Community Foundation: helping to build permanent endowments," Adkins said. "We help individuals, businesses and non-profits channel their resources, establish charitable funds, meet community needs and make a difference."

Slate said the foundation does just that.

"They help support you as a non-profit in this," he said. "They send you emails so you don't forget to post. And they have their own email blasts. That is so important."

Other challenges will be offered during the campaign, which runs between 8 a.m. Nov. 1 and 11:59 p.m. Dec.31.

Through GoodGiving last year, 1,500 donors gave an average of $108, and a third of them were younger than 35, she said. The challenge raised more than $200,000 — twice the goal — for 58 charities.

This year, 68 non-profits in five counties are participating, and the goal is $400,000.

The amount of money each organization raises is directly correlated with how savvy it is with social media, Adkins said.

To get things started, everyone is invited to the GoodGiving Guide Challenge family-friendly kick-off party Thursday at West Sixth Brewing Co. There will be food trucks, housemade sodas and a new beer released in support of the challenge. Those in attendance will vote for their favorite non-profit, and the brewing company will donate six percent of its sales through Nov. 6 to the non-profit with the most supporters at the launch party.

To check out the list of non-profits participating this year, go to Then click on a button. Can't get much easier than that.