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Second Annual Hudson Valley Gives Online Campaign Is May 17

Wednesday marks the second annual Hudson Valley Gives, a 24-hour online fundraising campaign. The idea is not only to raise money, but awareness. The one-day event driven by social media is a tool used by nonprofits elsewhere in the country.

Elizabeth Rowley is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, lead partner in the effort.

“So we’re hoping this year, I just did a check and we have 225 organizations signed up and already some money in the bank because the ‘donate now’ button has been live for a couple of days now so people are right on it and already giving very generously,” Rowley says. “So I anticipate we’ll definitely exceed that $143,000 this year.”

That’s $143,000 raised last year. Rowley says online giving makes it easy and does not compete with another gala or golf outing, which number many this time of year. She says 39 nonprofits are new to Hudson Valley Gives this year, some in a county that did not participate last year.

“This year I think we’ve reached a more diverse group of organizations and also a larger area,” says Rowley. “Last year, we did not include Westchester in the mix, and this year they actually asked to be included in Hudson Valley Gives, a few kind of key stakeholders down there.”

And Hudson Valley Gives could expand further next year.

“Everyone you ask has a different definition of what the Hudson Valley is so I think certainly we could consider extending our reach into Columbia and Greene County,” says Rowley. “The Dyson Foundation has been a strong supporter of this initiative since the beginning, and those are two other areas that they focus in are Columbia and Greene.”

Simon Abramson is associate director of High Falls-based Wild Earth, one of the local nonprofits taking part.

“Our hope is just to grow awareness about the programming we’re offering and it would be an added bonus to attract some new donors and folks in the community that may want to support the work we’re doing helping to bring kids out for character building, nature connecting experiences,” Abramson says.

He says it’s the donors that make programming possible.

“We just did our first program for as an alternative to incarceration group for a group of kids that are living in a group home instead of being in jail, and they came out and spent a day out in the woods, building character and having like epic adventures making fire by rubbing sticks together,” says Abramson. “And so it’s programs like that that become possible through the generosity of our donors.”

Rowley says the nonprofits participating run the gamut, from arts groups to museums to environmental groups to hospitals.

“Some of the major employers are nonprofits and really some of the economic engines in many of these communities like Newburgh, Kingston Poughkeepsie are these organizations really making a difference in the downtown areas,” Rowley says.

Rowley says that after the giving day, she will look at the data in terms of how well the effort reached a new audience of donors and supporters.

“Certainly I think as nonprofits have to be a little more creative in the ways that they’re raising money and reaching a new audience whether it’s millennials or just people who aren’t necessarily giving in the same old ways,” Crowley says. “These giving days are very successful and, again, make it super easy for people to give to one or many of their favorite causes.”

Rowley says during last year’s campaign, it was Middletown-based Pets Alive that raised the most dollars in 24 hours and garnered the most donors overall. Pets Alive is participating again this year.

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