Through social media, Giving Tuesday makes big impact on North Liberty Community Pantry

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG) - Charitable organizations both large and small have come to rely on a relatively-new annual tradition that banks on feelings of goodwill toward other people during the winter holiday season.

A chalkboard is displayed at the North Liberty Community Pantry on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 for Giving Tuesday (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)

Giving Tuesday marks one of the biggest fundraising times of the year for non-profits. The annual tradition was founded in 2012, aimed to be a logial follow-on to notorious shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The goal is to encourage people to donate to both large and local organizations.

For the North Liberty Community Pantry, the staff is already seeing a significant impact sparked by this newer tradition.

For as long as Kaila Rome, the Executive Director of the pantry, can remember, Giving Tuesday has been a useful tool for fast fundraising. But, as the demand grows, so too have the needs for the food pantry, serving both Tiffin and North Liberty residents.

This year, the pantry aimed to double last year's fundraising goal, hoping to raise $4,000 today. By 10:30 a.m., staff said that milestone had already been eclipsed. Rome said in the past, people have shown up when there is a big need and this year was no different.

"We try not to sound the alarm too much," Rome said. "If there's an unexpected increase, like we've had in the last few months, we completely ran out of peanut butter and canned meat one day. And we made a post about it and over 3,000 pounds showed up. This community really, really responds."

Rome said, for the food pantry, giving around the holidays and at the end of the year can add up to about 25 percent of their total yearly fundraising. She said the difference in fundraising on Giving Tuesday comes through the power of social media.

According to Nonprofits Source, in 2018, more than 3.5 million donations were made online worldwide. That raised $380 million for nonprofits.

On a large scale, it might not seem like the goal of $4,000 at the food pantry is a lot, but it marked the pantry's largest ask on Giving Tuesday. Rome said social media is making it easier to get help.

"We've really made an effort, just the last two or three years, it's become much more of a big deal," Rome said. "The more people are online shopping and the easier it's been for people to donate online, and the more that Facebook has helped us create a platform that's really easy for us to give. So the last couple years have been a big push."

Rome said they try not to ask for donations unless there is an immediate need, but for many area nonprofits, the end of the year is busy, making these Giving Tuesday donations all the more important.

For information on donating to the North Liberty Community Pantry, visit its website.