Events kick off 2013 fundraising season

Eric Harnage has his hands full as he dances a slow dance with his two young daughters, Morgan and Emily, during a former Daddy Daughter Dance at the Albany Civic Center.

Eric Harnage has his hands full as he dances a slow dance with his two young daughters, Morgan and Emily, during a former Daddy Daughter Dance at the Albany Civic Center.

ALBANY, Ga. -- With many Americans slowly emerging from a post-spending daze following the Christmas season, many local charities and nonprofits will kick off their 2013 fundraising efforts in earnest soon, hoping to cash in on what some say is an improving economy and the kindness of others.

The United Way of Albany, Mission:Change, Girls Inc., and others each have fundraisers looming as nonprofit charitable organizations begin the tight-rope walking that is often associated with asking people for money.

Girls Inc., in conjunction with the Girl Scouts of Southwest Georgia and the Flint River Habitat for Humanity, will host its annual Daddy/Daughter Dance Friday, an event that is one of that organization's signature fundraisers each year, at the Albany Civic Center.

Sherrell Alexander, the executive director for Girls Inc. -- an organization that works to empower girls through mentoring and character building -- said fundraising is a challenge in a community with such high poverty, but that the generosity of those who do have the means to give is often overwhelming.

Girls Inc. also has a silent auction and wine-tasting event set for March.

Locally, Albany has more than 278 nonprofit charitable organizations listed on the IRS.gov website, making fundraising extremely competitive within the city as organizations compete for every dollar.

However, Albany is known for its willingness to give. In a report published last year in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Albany metro area was listed as having the highest giving percentage in the state with residents giving, on average, 8.4 percent of their discretionary income to charities.

LaDonna Urick, the executive director of Mission:Change, a local nonprofit that works to eradicate homelessness in Albany, said that people continue to be generous to her organization despite their own personal challenges, often because they know the money stays in the local community.

"It is so important to us for everyone to participate in this awesome way to give back because the funds go directly back into our community to serve those in need," Urick said. "This ranges from our elderly who are shut-ins with no family, to our underserved youth, our food-insecure community as well as our homeless neighbors.

"Without the help from our community, we cannot do what we do. It takes funds, time, and organizing to make things happen, so we rely heavily on our volunteers and folks in our city to jump right in and participate in great ways like Ruby Tuesday's Gives Back."

Urick said Mission:Change has partnered with Ruby Tuesday's for a fundraiser Saturday in which 20 percent of all proceeds earned that day from patrons who bring in a special flyer will go to Mission:Change.

The flyer may be downloaded and printed at AlbanyHerald.com or the Herald's facebook page at facebook.com/albanyherald.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, public charities reported more than $1.15 trillion in total revenues and $1.45 trillion in total expenses in 2010. And while that information is staggering, officials say that most small charities that start up each year don't survive.

One local nonprofit that is hanging on by a thread is the Flint RiverQuarium. After just eliminating its CEO position as a cost-cutting measure, the RiverQuarium is in the midst of its own fundraiser -- selling turtles for its annual turtle race -- hoping to generate interest and revenues to keep the doors open.

More than 5,000 plastic turtles will go down the fountain at the RiverQuarium, rewarding the winner with a $5,000 prize.

Turtles may be adopted for $5 each.

LaKisha Bryant, executive director of the United Way of Southwest Georgia, said her organization is ramping up its 2013 fundraising campaign season as well after ending its 2012 campaign in December.

"The end of the year is the closeout of our traditional campaign season. So for us, our contribution stream is a little different. We're getting payroll deduction paperwork and people sending in checks," Bryant said. "Like most nonprofits, we see contributions coming in at the end of the year as people are wanting to make those last minute contributions. However, our funding cycle for that campaign doesn't let us start using those funds in January. We won't start using those funds until July.

"But to know that the income is helping you reach your goals means that when the fiscal year starts you are starting out in the black and not the red. That's always good for any organization."

Bryant said that while her organization brings in a large chunk of its revenues at the end of the year, nonprofits require almost steady, year-round support, especially when, as hers does, the organization extends beyond just one city or county.

"Organizations need fiscal support all year, so just because it's not the fourth quarter doesn't mean that your donation won't be impactful -- it will be at any time that it's given. And when you support the United Way, you're supporting 27 partner agencies and programs in the Southwest Georgia area. So a little bit goes a long way," Bryant said.

The United Way of Southwest Georgia will officially kick off its spring fundraising efforts on March 29 with its Day of Caring event.


Ihope4albany 2 years, 9 months ago

Let us recall the harsh comments made about an ASU scholarship drive kickoff a few months ago to raise money for male students that was demonized as begging for handouts.

Are are all these fundraisers "handout requests" too?

I hope not Albany-Dougherty because that would mean we should not support them either.

Or are all of these fundraisers an larger indication of the continued economic and social distress that Albany-DOCO has been under for many decades and it is really visible now because those with money and wealth have been leaving for other places?


jglass 2 years, 9 months ago

I read a post on facebook in reference to helping different organizations. I do not contribute to those who have CEOs, etc. who make millions of dollars annually. Sad, the organizations who need the help probably get the least help.


chinaberry25 2 years, 9 months ago

Kick away. Be sure and ask that person who put that fake tattoo on the small child to be the first to donate. That is deplorable. A child in a tattoo going to a dressup dance.


Sister_Ruby 2 years, 9 months ago

Every day is Fundraising Day in Dougherty County.


agirl_25 2 years, 9 months ago

I never ever contribute to any of type fundraiser and to be perfectly honest, I can well afford to. Want to know why I don't? Well because most of the money I would contribute goes to administrative cost so that some old guy's newest wife can have her picture taken at some tea to promote the charity I have contributed to and the bleached blonde, boob enhanced, botox lipped bimbo can have said photo in the society section of the newspaper. Bleh.....my money goes to St. Judes, the Shriners and to the ASPCA but to the ASPCA in the form of several #50 bags of dog food on a regular basis. As far as turtles go, we have adopted a live gopher turtle we found back in the woods, eyes all crusted over, caught in vines half starved, and cleaned his eyes and fed him and he is doing well now, and it didn't cost us a thing. Happy to report he is fine and doing well out by the pond. I think my money and time is well spent...don't you?


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