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Fundraiser to aid state nonprofits

By MASON BLANFORD mblanford@paducahsun.com

As an annual statewide fundraiser, Kentucky Gives Day for the past four years has brought in needed revenue and increased awareness of the services provided by nonprofits.

The fifth annual day of giving will help hundreds of nonprofits in the commonwealth that are members of the Kentucky Nonprofit Network. Officially it begins at 11 p.m. CDT Monday, but anyone is encouraged to make a tax-deductible donation on kygives.org from now until 10:59 p.m. Tuesday.

Donations given on Tuesday will count toward cash prizes for organizations in categories including highest amount raised and most participating donors.

Danielle Clore, Kentucky Nonprofit Network executive director, said it's all part of a day fine-tuned to help nonprofits thrive, adding it helps "level the playing field" for smaller organizations in both funding and establishing a stronger online presence.

"Another incentive is to help others dip their toes into the waters of online giving," said Clore, who added last year's day put them over the $121 million mark for four years. "That's new territory for many nonprofits and donors (alike)."

"Each year we survey donors after the event, and many times learn this was their first gift to charity overall -- and even their first online donation."

One participating nonprofit, Sunrise Children's Services, hopes more donors will continue to realize the values of online donations.

The statewide ministry with a Paducah branch has helped abused and neglected children for almost 150 years through therapeutic and residential programs. And the past "two or three years" have convinced associate director of communications Melissa Bailey that the organization is stronger with Kentucky Gives Day.

"This initiative with Kentucky Nonprofit Network is growing and putting more roots in the ground," Bailey said.

With those roots have come ways to increase prospective donors.

Funds raised so far have been less than $5,000, but Bailey said donations have increased annually; and new tactics include online advertising to strengthen their presence alongside Kentucky Nonprofit Network.

"Our goal is to grow that momentum with Kentucky Gives Day," she said. "We see the value in it, which is why we're participating. The whole premise is giving in your own backyard -- giving to organizations that are going to use those contributions to further their local community."

This is the second year participating for the Purchase Area Sexual Assault Center, located in Paducah.

Donations go directly to the center, said development director Amberly Walker, which helps those affected by child abuse and sexual violence with clinical counseling, advocacy and forensic services, and prevention education.

"We can't speak for other charities, but I do know nonprofits like us have restricted grant funding," Walker said, adding their first year's efforts raised almost $1,000.

The fundraiser also has helped raise awareness for the Murray-Calloway Endowment for Healthcare.

Development coordinator Susan Davis said the agency has been a part of Kentucky Gives Day since the beginning. This year's donations will be designated to constructing and maintaining the Anna Mae Owen Residential Hospice House, among other ventures.

With more than 300 nonprofits in Murray alone, Davis said it's hard for many to find adequate funding.

"It's an easy way for people to find us and make a donation," she said.

"Many people make donations at the end of the year, but this is good for this time of year. It's a good way to reach out and help local charities."

Clore added that it's "easy to overlook the value of nonprofits, but they serve our communities in ways we often don't realize. They need your support, and this is a great way for Kentucky to come together."

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