The Big Give SA: Crowdsourcing Philanthropy For You and Me

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One of many Big Give SA Spotlight Organizations: Housing and Community Service (HCS). Aaron Cahill, a resident at one of HCS's low income housing developments and a veteran, was recently awarded a full scholarship to pursue his dreams with the help of this deserving organization. Remember HCS on May 6. Photo courtesy of Big Give SA Facebook page.

One of many Big Give SA Spotlight Organizations: Housing and Community Service (HCS). Aaron Cahill, a resident at one of HCS's low income housing developments and a veteran, was recently awarded a full scholarship to pursue his dreams with the help of this deserving organization. Remember HCS on May 6. Photo courtesy of Big Give SA Facebook page.

The big gifts win the headlines and rightly so. Charles Butt, Bill Greehey, Kit Goldsbury, Harvey Najim, Graham Weston: the city’s wealthiest individuals who share a deep commitment to community and various causes literally change the course of events with their philanthropy. H-E-B and Valero give away so many millions of dollars a year to local charities and non-profits that no one outside their companies track the giving. The Kronkosky Foundation and others distribute millions more.

H-E-B’s 2014 Education in Excellence Awards, the Academy Awards for Texas public educators, were held Saturday night at a black tie event staged at a Houston hotel. In total, more than $800,000 in recognition awards were handed out to teachers, administrators, schools and districts.

[Read more: For 12th Year, H-E-B Honors Top Public School Educators in Texas.]

Early Childhood award winner ChildCareGroup represented by Victoria Mannes receives their check at the HEB Excellence in Education Awards at the Grand Sonesta Hotel in Houston, Texas Saturday May 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of H-E-B.

Early Childhood award winner ChildCareGroup represented by Victoria Mannes receives $25,000 check at the H=E=B Excellence in Education Awards at the Grand Sonesta Hotel in Houston, Texas Saturday May 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of H-E-B.

The common man and woman might think giving is beyond their means. After all, how can individuals give charitably when they are just beginning their careers as young professionals, starting a family, buying their first house, or struggling to pay off college debt?

One way is The Big Give SA on Tuesday, May 6. If there is one philanthropic phenomenon that young professionals appreciate it is crowdsourcing. The Big Give SA is crowdsourcing philanthropy at the grass-roots level. Every $10 counts, literally.

Jennifer Wijangco, the senior head of advancement at the Briscoe Western Art Museum, wrote an inspiring article for the Rivard Report headlined, The Big Give SA: There Are No Small Gifts.

It probably was lost amid Fiesta and deserves wider readership. Despite her job title, Jennifer is a young professional.

In her posting she wrote about a 10-week internship she served at the Museum of Modern Art in New York  a decade ago. The MOMA receives many million dollar gifts and others measured in the tens of millions of dollars. Yet mentors of Jennifer there taught her this simple mantra: There are no small gifts.

So far, 467 agencies have registered with Big Give SA and $224,000 given in prize money and matching grants. Photo courtesy of the Woodlawn Theatre.

So far, 467 agencies have registered with Big Give SA and $224,000 given in prize money and matching grants. Photo courtesy of the Woodlawn Theatre – one of the participating nonprofits.

The San Antonio Area Foundation, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, tracks thousands of non-profits in Bexar County. These groups are dedicated to everything from education to eliminating poverty and illiteracy to strengthening families to promoting arts and culture. Together they represent the scaffolding upon which communities are built and maintained. Ask anyone who works for one of these thousands of organizations and they will tell you they depend on the generosity of everyday people. The big gifts draw the most attention, but there are only so many of them. It is the generosity of the majority that keeps most community groups alive and well.

The Big Give SA is a single day and night (midnight to midnight on May 6, 2014) of community giving to 467 participating local non-profits. Here is a description of the event on The Big Give SA website:

The purpose of this community-wide giving challenge is to increase public awareness of the impact local nonprofits make in addressing our community’s social challenges, bring nonprofits and donors together, expand the idea of online giving, connect people to the causes that move them the most and, of course, make giving FUN. By turning giving into a shared city-wide experience, we can significantly impact the future of San Antonio and collectively move our city forward. The Big Give S.A. is part of the national day of giving called Give Local America. Communities across the country are coming together on May 6.

View a Spanish translation here.

The goals of The Big Give SA are to:

  • INVEST strategically in Bexar County nonprofits.
  • DRIVE our community forward through collective impact.
  • LEVERAGE giving with matching funds and prize incentives.

You can explore The Big Give SA website to learn more about the event, the many local presenting sponsors from the San Antonio community, and how to securely pledge online. Organizations are eligible for matching gifts and prizes based on the level of donations they collect. Click on the Leaderboard to scroll through the participating organizations. You’ll surely find one that fit your own passions for community investment.

Back to the question: How can young people engage in philanthropy? You can start with  a $10 gift, all it takes to become a member of San Antonio’s giving community. If you can afford more, why not take $50-100 and pledge $10 gifts to 5-10 worthy organizations whose work your admire and support? Individuals on even tighter budgets can pool resources, each person contributing a few dollars – the price of a craft beer – to the pot. Together you can pledge as a group and take pride in your participation. Imagine everyone acting in the same manner as you and there you have the power of crowdsourcing philanthropy.

The Rivard Report is a small startup with modest resources, but we will convene Monday and identify groups we want to support with small gifts. Working together with other small businesses dedicated to building a better San Antonio, we know what we do will matter. We don’t want to watch The Big Give SA from the sidelines. We want to part of the Big Day. The only difficulty will be deciding who to support with our limited reach.

Won’t you join us?

*Featured/top image: One of many Big Give SA Spotlight Organizations: Housing and Community Service (HCS). Aaron Cahill, a resident at one of HCS’s low income housing developments and a veteran, was recently awarded a full scholarship to pursue his dreams with the help of this deserving organization. Remember HCS on May 6. Photo courtesy of The Big Give SA Facebook page.

Related Stories:

The Big Give SA: There Are No Small Gifts

#strongertogether: The ‘Big Give’ for San Antonio Nonprofits

The Jazz Tutor: KRTU San Antonio’s Fund Drive Celebrates Listeners, Jazz Culture

Chefs For Chefs: A Brunch to Help Those in Need 

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