INSPIRE Missoula: Missoula Gives

INSPIRE Missoula: Missoula Gives

Written by Sophie Echeverio

Every year, when winter gives way to spring, Missoulians come together to support the local organizations that enrich our community and make Missoula such a special place to live and visit. Missoula Gives is a 26-hour-long, completely crowd-sourced fundraising event that funds and celebrates Missoula and Bitterroot Valley’s approximately 240 nonprofits. The annual event is the brainchild of the Missoula Community Foundation (MCF), which serves as a ‘philanthropic hub that brings together donors, causes and nonprofits in positive and innovative partnerships.’ The Executive Director of MCF, Marcy Allen, sat down with Destination Missoula just days before the kickoff this year to discuss the 7th Annual Missoula & Bitterroot Gives, and what to expect come April 30th.

Photo courtesy of Missoula Community Foundation.

“The Missoula Community Foundation really focuses on two things. Our mission is to enhance community vitality by inspiring community giving and strengthening nonprofits. Our place in this world has been redefined right now...you know, this year we reached a critical point if we were going to move forward with this day. It became really evident that we needed to push forward with the idea of the collective impact of giving—I could go and give the food bank $10 dollars... but what would the impact be if I got 50 of my friends to donate that $10?


There’s a lot of amazing, generous things that are happening in response to COVID-19.


Missoula charitable nonprofits generate approximately 1.2 billion in income each year while Ravalli, the greater Bitterroot Valley area, generates 170 million (WOW!). These impressive funds are returned right back to the community through the nonprofits'’ mission-driven work. In the wake of COVID-19, Missoula Gives was forced to cancel many of their events that foster the connection between donors and businesses—potentially threatening the success of the fundraiser.

“When we decided to move forward, we recognized that we wouldn't have the opportunity to have in-person events. As it happens, Missoula Gives is, in-and-of-itself, the ultimate virtual platform. It became clear they had to alter their focus of drawing people to events and kickoff parties and pivot to education and developing individual networks within the nonprofits—the two combined illustrate the true power of online giving.”

A large part of Missoula Gives has always been the events, which cultivate opportunities for nonprofits to reach beyond the normal audience of email lists and clients. Previous kick-off events have been hosted by local hotspots such as Plonk, where patrons are rewarded for their donations with free craft cocktails.  These locally held events serve as a way to encourage new donors—just last year 26% of folks self identified as first-time donors

Photo courtesy of Missoula Community Foundation.

“We can use Missoula Gives as a way to educate nonprofits on online giving, statistically nonprofits that have matches in place, individual fundraisers on their webpage, and participate in some of the online workshops earn more money. The nonprofits this year have worked extra hard to put these things in place. This year because we are isolated and working from home we have seen increased training attendance. Nonprofits are focused on their work, so it's been exciting to watch them and to see the outcome. We have always known it's just a matter of engaging, utilizing and training to reach our goal.”

The 7th Annual Missoula & Bitterroot Gives will look a little different this year. Instead of flocking to Plonk for cocktails and cheese boards with friends, participants are directed to an (almost) 26-hour live stream event created by our favorite local nonprofits! The ZACC is putting on a variety show, Garden City Harvest is walking us through starting a garden from start to finish, Tell Us Something Live Storytelling is conducting workshops for viewers—the list goes on and on. The winner of the video challenge hosted by the MCF will run on KPAX social media and television, giving Missoula Gives itself, and the organizations, even more exposure to support their cause!


“We live in a special place, our communities create this place with engagement, generosity, and creativity. With the current crisis, we will come ‘Separately Together’.


“There’s a lot of amazing, generous things that are happening in response to COVID-19. While there is a huge need during this time, there will still be critical needs after the fact, they will be most necessary during the recovery. Those who want and have the ability to give, want to connect some way to community and give to their neighbors—Missoula Gives offers an opportunity for them to do so. We have some big surprises we are still working on, so tune in!”

Photo courtesy of Missoula Community Foundation.

“I’ve gotten to witness this amazing shift in nonprofits. Through workshops and training, seeing them recognize their value and clarify their mission has resulted in a strong positive change in the community. All of these add to the vibrancy and resilience of our community. I hope that on the other side of this, we can reimagine all that we can be moving forward.”


We will support important work in our community, connect to each other and share our stories virtually. We think that now more than ever we need to celebrate the work and generosity in our community.


From the arts to outdoor recreation, there’s a nonprofit for nearly every passion, pastime and cause that drives us in Missoula. And come spring each year, Missoula Gives is the ultimate reminder of how much power we have when we come together as a community. In the words of our friends over at Missoula Gives, “We live in a special place, our communities create this place with engagement, generosity, and creativity. With the current crisis, we will come ‘Separately Together’. We will support important work in our community, connect to each other and share our stories virtually. We think that now more than ever we need to celebrate the work and generosity in our community. We encourage those that can give to support organizations in their community on April 30-May 1 online.

Photo courtesy of Missoula Community Foundation.

If you'd like to participate in Missoula Gives & Bitterroot Gives, and help them reach their goal of HALF A MILLION raised for our local nonprofits, visit MissoulaGives.org.

 

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