Crawford Gives Day benefits many local groups - Titusville Herald: News

Crawford Gives Day benefits many local groups

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Posted: Friday, October 4, 2019 5:00 am

The very first Crawford Gives Day ended in resounding success, according to organizers of the donation drive, bringing in a total of $162,704.44 for a variety of non-profit groups in Crawford County from 1,754 donations over the course of Wednesday.

Set up by the Crawford Heritage Community Foundation, the fundraising event that allowed people to donate to their choice of more than 100 local organizations in Crawford County. Accompanying this was a pool of $40,000 which was used to match a percentage of each donation made, resulting in more than $200,000 being donated throughout the course of the event.

According to Crawford heritage Community Foundation Executive Director Christian Maher, Crawford Gives Day was modeled after similar such funding drives held in Erie and Venango counties. He labeled the day a major success, and said the foundation is already making plans on how to improve the day for next year.

“Oh, we’re definitely going to do it next year,” Maher said. “We had too good a result not to.”

The event was limited to 501(c)(3) non-profit groups, though Maher said the criteria may be expanded next year. Several Titusville-based organizations, as well as non-profits with Titusville branches, took part and saw major gains.

In fact, Love In the Name of Christ, a Christian organization located on Central Avenue in Titusville, led all involved groups in terms of amount raised. Love INC accrued a total of $13,721.34 across 47 donors.

“I’ll tell you what, we were overwhelmed,” said Love INC Executive Director Debbie Miller. “We were excited. We’re just so grateful to people who know and understand what we do at Love In the Name of Christ.”

The group set a funding goal of $10,000 for the campaign, but Miller said they were unsure whether they would reach that amount. However, they quickly saw their numbers climb, and once they reached the $11,000 mark, they were “over the moon,” according to Miller.

“It really hit home that ‘Hey, we did this,’” she said.

The group plans to use a good portion of the money toward a new program that will begin in January known as Homes of Hope, which will provide housing for homeless children with single parents in an apartment above the Love INC offices. During their stay, Love INC will offer mentors and various assistance programs to help the parent get back on their feet and returned to a regular home.

Other proceeds will be used to expand the childcare policy for Love INC’s Garden of Hope, a religion-based personal help program that Miller said deals with topics such as relationships and emotional wellbeing.

Crawford County Women’s Services, which maintains an office in both Titusville and Meadville, garnered the second most amount of money raised, and led the pack in terms of numbers of donations. The group was given $10,066.18 from 92 donations throughout the day, 30 of those being donors who never gave to Women’s Services before.

This number destroyed Women’s Services goal, which was set at a mere $1,500. Julie Hunter, marketing and media supervisors for the organization, said that Women’s Services had taken part in other give days in nearby counties, but traditionally hadn’t done well, usually getting less than $1,000. As such, reaching five figures was a welcome surprise.

“When people are in your own backyard, I think that gives them an incentive to donate,” Hunter said.

Compared to other fundraisers Women’s Services runs throughout the year, the Crawford Gives Day amount has already reached the top four in terms of monetary benefit. The top one is an annual golf outing, which Hunter said brings in between $30,000 to $40,000 a year.

Hunter said the group plans to be more active in promoting the day next year, and hopes that it will become one of the top two funding drives for the group.

The number of Titusville area organizations that participated expands well beyond Women’s Services and Love INC. Titusville Council on the Arts, Regional Literacy Council, Historical Society and more all brought in money through the day.

The Benson Memorial Library was one such group, bringing in $991,01 from 16 donors.

Library Historian Jessica Hilburn, who managed the Benson’s involvement with the drive, said the library had a long history of working with the Crawford Heritage Foundation on various projects, so they leaped at the chance to be one of the organizations involved in the funding drive.

“Getting donations en masse all at once like that is a major help,” Hilburn said.

The Titusville YMCA brought in $1,740.92 from 17 donors. Senior Program Director Jacquelyn Slater said the money will be used to support the Y’s financial assistance program, which gives out memberships at discounted rates.

While the group came up short of their goal of $5,000, Slater said the YMCA wasn’t really sure what to expect as this was their first year participating in a fundraiser like Crawford County Gives. Despite the lower amount, she called the funds “very helpful.”

The match funds for Crawford County Gives were donated by Acutec Precision Aerospace Inc. and an anonymous donor, with both parties contributing $20,000 each, according to Maher. The foundation director said the gifts given throughout the day began picking up around lunchtime on Wednesday and consistently rolled in through the rest of the allotted time.

“It was busier than I thought it would be,” Maher said. “We even had people stopping by to make gifts with credit cards in the office, which we weren’t really expecting to do.”

The day was primarily centered around online donations, a move which Maher said was aimed at attracting younger donors. While credit cards were the exclusive method used to make gifts this year, Maher hopes to add on other avenues, such as checks and hard cash, next year.

The Crawford Heritage Community Foundation is presently waiting for all of the credit card transactions to clear, and will then disperse the funds to each participating organization. They are also pulling together a list of names for all donors to allow involved groups to thank those who helped out.

Ray can be reached, by email, at sray@titusvilleherald.com.

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