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Boston charities ramp up online fundraising for GivingTuesday

Boston charities adapted their GivingTuesday fundraising efforts as the pandemic continues to undermine in-person events and tighten household budgets.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed additional challenges to Boston charities on Giving Tuesday, an annual day of giving back to those in need following the Thanksgiving holiday. COURTESY OF GIVING TUESDAY

GivingTuesday, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a global movement promoting acts of kindness and charitable donation. Charities around Boston typically host events, send out messages through social media and reach out to past donors to boost financial support.

Homeless children and families are among the groups hit hardest by the pandemic’s economic impacts, because they often rely on donation-funded programming and shelters, said Andrea Drag, the Horizons for Homeless Children marketing communications specialist.

Horizons for Homeless Children, which provides education and support for local children and families experiencing homelessness, expanded its outreach by adding printed postcards to its usual digital solicitations, Drag said.

The postcards were sent out Friday to Tuesday, and were intended to garner support from locals following setbacks and additional costs associated with the pandemic, Drag wrote in an email, while the emails are used to reach past donors.

“The holidays are traditionally an area where we hit pretty hard with solicitations, because it is a big time of need for our kids and our families,” Drag said. “We’re hoping to see an uptick, but it’s a hard year for everyone in terms of people’s personal budgets being cut with the pandemic, so we’re also mindful of that.”

Drag added the organization has needed to shift in-person programming, including a spring gala and women’s breakfast, to a virtual format.

Moving Horizons for Homeless Children’s golf tournament from early summer to September and canceling the Boston Marathon, a fundraising event, caused the organization to lose funds in the last fiscal year, Drag said.

Instead of the charity’s “Holidays with Horizons” events — where Bostonians are invited to visit with families and children in the organization’s classrooms — Drag said community members are now encouraged to create care kits with toys and books to drop off at its centers.

For Horizons for Homeless Children, Drag added, this GivingTuesday was about reminding the community that nonprofit organizations, such as their own, are still operating during the pandemic and need help.

“When it comes to young children, especially children with limited resources, it’s really great for them to be able to come into a safe place for them to learn,” Drag said. “[GivingTuesday is] really about more supporting their community and organizations that are right in their backyard.” 

Alicia Curran, spokesperson for The Home for Little Wanderers, which provides at-risk children with behavioral healthcare, special education and foster programs, said GivingTuesday is essential for nonprofits because of the support it brings.

“GivingTuesday is a really important time for nonprofits,” Curran said, “because nonprofits rely so much on the donors and the people that keep them running so that they can accomplish their mission and keep their programs going.”

The Home for Little Wanderers’ messaging this year focused on the pandemic’s impact on children and families, Jeanne Armocida, chief development officer, wrote in an email.

While the organization has struggled with a tighter-than-usual budget, it has also received much financial support this holiday season. Armocida wrote the organization’s annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive received more support this year than any year prior. 

“We have heard from donors who may not have given recently, and others who have given more often than usual, responding to our stories of need,” Armocida wrote. “The response has been heartwarming — people really care about their community.”

The organization’s annual Gingerbread House Making Competition will be virtually hosted Sunday, with kits being mailed and completed houses voted on through social media.

Curran said the Home is operating a gift card drive this year instead of its usual gift drive, which would require donors to drop presents off in person.

Armocida added that GivingTuesday is particularly important this year, because those in need tend to be greatly impacted by the pandemic.

“The Home works with families who were struggling even before the pandemic and it has only increased pressures and stress for those kids and families,” Armocida wrote. “Our kids need support more than ever this year.”

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