Arizona Gives Day

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Arizona Gives Day is a single statewide day of giving that has raised $4.5 million for Arizona nonprofits since 2013. Participating nonprofits also training and marketing support. Laurie Liles, CEO of the Arizona Grantmakers Forum, and Kristen Merrifield, CEO of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, will tell us more.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Arizona Giving and Leading" looks as Arizona Gives Day, a statewide effort to focus on the needs of charities and nonprofits. Joining us now, Laurie Liles, Arizona grantmakers forum, and Kristen Merrifield, alliance of Arizona nonprofits. What is Arizona Gives Day?

Laurie Liles: It's exactly what it sounds like it is. An online single day of giving where all Arizonans can participate.

Ted Simons: And the focus of the day, what is the mission here?

Laurie Liles: The mission is to connect people with their passions and help them support their nonprofit organizations in communities throughout the state.

Ted Simons: So basically raising money, raising awareness too, I would imagine.

Kristin Merrifield: Absolutely. We have people that will go on to the Arizona giving website and find nonprofits they had no idea existed and end up giving to multiple nonprofits even though they went online just to find their favorites. A great way to expose them to new donors.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, give me a reason why especially this day is an important event.

Kristin Merrifield: We always want to cultivate a culture of philanthropy here in Arizona. Looking for new sources of fund and donors, we are exposing to people who have never given to a nonprofit before.

Ted Simons: Interesting. I would imagine a big emphasis here is getting the word out, correct?

Laurie Liles: Exactly.

Ted Simons: In a variety of ways.

Laurie Liles: Correct. And using social media is a huge part of Arizona Gives Day.

Ted Simons: When it comes to individuals what are you looking for? What do you want folks to do, how do you want them to react?

Laurie Liles: Really want people to go to azgives.org, and they have until midnight tonight to do so. Find keyword searches; look for causes they care about. There's something on azgives.org for everyone. It's really a great opportunity for people to explore new opportunities to connect with organizations as Kristen said, they have never heard of before.

Ted Simons: Health issue, animals, anything.

Laurie Liles: Children and youth, the environment.

Ted Simons: As far as businesses are concerned their involvement in Arizona Gives Day, what are you looking for?

Kristin Merrifield: We've seen an increase in interest, especially from the local business community in supporting Gives Day. We have a list of local businesses that are either giving profits back to the nonprofits. We went to Urban Cookies this morning and got some wonderful churro cupcakes. They are giving back. Even large corporations are getting their employees involved.

Ted Simons: Talk about big businesses and how they are supporting the effort.

Kristin Merrifield: One example, obviously First Bank is our sponsor. They do a wonderful job getting their employees engaged and wear shirts at their branches. Even Intel is encouraging employees to do their giving through Arizona Gives Day. Especially some of our large corporations here in Arizona.

Ted Simons: Arizona Gives Day, the history: How long has it been going on, how did it get started?

Laurie Liles: 2013, in our fourth year.

Ted Simons: How did it get started?

Laurie Liles: I believe the alliance of Arizona nonprofits, Kristen's organization and my organization, Arizona grant makers forum, got together and decided Arizona should have a gives day, too. Colorado and other states have one, and I think first bank was involved in the beginning, as well. It's a great tradition we started.

Ted Simons: Modeled after other states?

Kristin Merrifield: Yes. There are quite a few other states that have done it for a multitude of different years. First Bank is very involved. When they came to Arizona they wanted to again be a part of having that culture of philanthropy in Arizona, too. They teamed up with us and Arizona Gives Day was born.

Ted Simons: 17,000 donors, 573 nonprofit groups, more than $2 million.

Laurie Liles: Kristin can talk about the number of nonprofits involved.

Kristin Merrifield: We have 96 nonprofits this year. We are nearing $.9 million with six hours still to go in the day. It's going to be a big year for us.

Ted Simons: As far as nonprofits in general, how is the looking? How is the going out there?

Kristin Merrifield: It's really starting to take an upward tick. I was talking to someone earlier about giving overall, it's growing in the nation. But Arizona it took a little bit longer because they saw a decrease in giving and an increase in need. It took a little long for them to get out of the recession. They are coming on strong, they have been hiring it's a great sign for us.

Ted Simons: What are you seeing as far as the state of nonprofits and charities in Arizona?

Laurie Liles: It's a vibrant nonprofit community. One of the reasons we're so pleased to be involved in Arizona Gives Day, this day helps bolster our already strong and vibrant nonprofits community. But the organization Kristen represents is a $22 billion industry, and on par with the retail sector in Arizona, 8% of the state GDP, so that's according to the recent report that came out. And so this is just one more way that we can all support the nonprofits that are making Arizona better.

Ted Simons: So Arizona Gives Day, let's go ahead and say it's a success last year, looks like a success this year. What happens to Arizona Gives Day tomorrow?

Kristin Merrifield: We get to start announcing the wonderful prizes that have been won. The nonprofits will be excited to get our calls. Let's have Arizona Gives Day be alive all year long. We're focused on how we can creatively do that. The next step for our nonprofits, we've got $50,000 and 500 new donors. Now what? We are providing training to help them cultivate those relationships, help them follow up. Work to be done to make them lifelong donors and fans and helps for the organization, too.

Ted Simons: Training for a day turning into a month and then a year.

Laurie Liles: It's the beginning of a new relationship between nonprofits and these first-time donors. So I think the training is for the nonprofits. But these are relationships that will start today and will continue throughout the year. So I think you can talk a little bit about the training that you provide to the nonprofits that participate.

Kristin Merrifield: We have training leading up to the day, how do I do a campaign? Some of those are smaller nonprofits that aren't used to the social media trend. We provide training on how to get donor, set up a web page, social media.

Ted Simons: Very good, good to have you here.

Kristin Merrifield: Thank you.

Laurie Liles: Appreciate it.

Ted Simons: Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon," Senate President Andy Biggs joins us in studio as he does each month of legislative session. We'll discuss the pros and cons of federal health care with the head of England's National Healthcare System. That's at 5:30 and 0:00 on the next "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now, I am Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Video: Arizona Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Laurie Liles: CEO of the Arizona Grantmakers Forum, Kristen Merrifield: CEO of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits

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