By Stacey Dresner
WESTERN MASS. – A dozen Jewish organizations in Western Massachusetts are participating in the third annual Valley Gives, a 24-hour e-philanthropy event on Dec. 10, designed to encourage residents in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties to contribute to their favorite nonprofit organizations via www.valleygivesday.org – a new web-enabled and mobile giving platform.
Donors can visit the Valley Gives website on Dec. 10 between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. to make gifts to their favorite nonprofits.
In the last two years, Valley Gives has raised more than $3 million from more than 15,000 donors.
Organized and hosted by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, several funding organizations are partnering with the Community Foundation, including the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, the Jewish Endowment Foundation, and the United Way.
“Valley Gives as a program is brought to the community by the Community Foundation and the Community Foundation has partnered with several large philanthropic organizations around the community,” said Meredith Dragon, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Western Mass. “We are working with the Community Foundation to bring Valley Gives to the entire Western Mass. community…It is a regional fundraising effort, so it is one of those moments for the whole community to see the Federation as an important philanthropic organization in the community and not just the Jewish community,” Dragon said.
For the past two years, the Jewish Federation has raised funds for its annual Federation campaign during Valley Gives. This year, the Federation has earmarked any donations from Valley Gives to go to PJ Library, a national program that was founded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and is run locally by the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, providing families with children ages six months through eight years with a free treasury of Jewish books and music.
“Rather than participate in Valley Gives with the annual campaign this year, we decided to focus on a program, so we are raising funds specifically for PJ Library. Any of the money that is raised through Valley Gives this year will help the Western Mass. Federation’s PJ Library program,” Dragon said. “In addition, Harold Grinspoon has provided a $5,000 matching gift for the local program so that dollar for dollar, any money we raise locally for PJ Library will be matched.”
“The idea behind Valley Gives is that it is a capacity building project,” Dragon added. “It is really about helping non-profits increase their capacity for online giving and social media. So when we started looking at our myriad programs that could be attached to that delivery system, we thought of PJ Library, which serves our young families. If there is a group that we want to engage with social media, it is that age demographic. Also, PJ Library is an important valley-wide program – it impacts the entire valley and the Jewish and non-Jewish community. So of all of the things we are doing, we felt like it was a really good program to promote through Valley Gives.”
“There is no better gift than that of early literacy,” said Jillian Dashevsky, coordinator of the PJ Library program. “This is the first year that the Jewish Federation is using Valley Gives Day to support our local PJ Library program. By supporting our local PJ Library program on Valley Gives Day, you can help increase the vibrancy of our PJ Library program by helping us to be able to bring the books into the homes of more families and connect them to our local Jewish community.”
This year, thanks to various sponsors and donors to Valley Gives, $225,000 in unrestricted cash prizes and exciting bonus matches will be given out to nonprofits that inspire the most donors. There will also be bonus matches for first time donors, nonprofits that meet challenges to their donors as well as many more new opportunities to win. Valley Gives is powered by Razoo, the crowdfunding platform for causes.
“There are special prizes totaling as much as $222,000, so the more donors we can involve, the better our chances become at being eligible for some of these exciting prizes,” Dashevsky added.
For more information about Valley Gives, or to donate, visit www.valleygivesday.org.
Jewish Organizations Participating in Valley Gives:
Chabad House at Amherst
Congregation Sons of Zion
Hillel House of UMass Amherst
Jewish Family Service of Western Mass.
Jewish Federation of
Western Mass.- PJ Library
Jewish Geriatric Services
Lander Grinspoon Academy
Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy (as Yeshiva Achei Tmimim of Springfield)
Mak’Hela, the Jewish Chorus
of Western Mass.