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East County Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2018 3 years ago

East County nonprofits gear up for Giving Challenge

Donations over a 24-hour period often are crucial to a nonprofit's services.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

It's the final scramble, only days before the 24-hour Giving Challenge May 1-2.

Nonprofits in the Sarasota and Manatee counties area have been sending out email blasts, calling possible donors and hanging signs to alert anyone who will listen that the 24-hour period is one of their most important funding times of the year.

The Giving Challenge, organized by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and last held in 2016, helps 625 nonprofits raise key funds while the Patterson Foundation then matches every individual donation up to $100.

Here is a look at a few nonprofits in East County that hope to secure some necessary funds.



Nate's Honor will undergo an $8 million expansion so funds from the Giving Challenge could help that project.

Gavinett, a 2-month-old puppy at Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue, is just one of the animals on site awaiting adoption.

While Gavinett waits, she gets general and any medical care needed, along with the other approximately 200 animals in its care. Nate's Honor adopted out 1,900 animals in 2017.

The expenses can add up, and now Nate's Honor has just announced an $8 million expansion.

Funds generated from this year's Giving Challenge will go toward that expansion.

Karen Slomba, the associate director of Nate’s Honor, said they are grateful for any amount the Giving Challenge generates. They try to get fixed on a set number.

Last year's Giving Challenge raised $200,000 for Nate's Honor and this year an anonymous donor will match donations (aside from the Patterson Foundation). It leaves Nate's Honor with high hopes.

Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue has an operating budget between $700,000 and $800,000 yearly.

“However much money we get, it will all go to benefit our animals,” Slomba said. “We’re always so surprised at how many people donate.”



Ted Lindenberg and his nonprofit, Books for Kids, has purchased 48,000 books for elementary students in Manatee and Sarasota counties in the past four years.

The Giving Challenge means one thing for Lindenberg.

“All of the money will go toward buying books for our kids,” Lindenberg said.

The Books for Kids program, sponsored by the Lakewood Ranch Rotary Club, sends volunteer readers to elementary schools in Manatee County. On each visit, those volunteers give each student a book to take home.

Lindenberg said the program tries to alert the public about the Giving Challenge two months in advance.

“It’s such a great opportunity for all the nonprofits, but it takes a great deal of work to be a part of the challenge,” Lindenberg said of all the emails and calls made and sent.

In 2016, Books for Kids received $15,000 dollars from the Giving Challenge, which was much higher than expected.

“We’re going to be checking the leaderboard every two minutes just like everyone else is,” Lindenberg said. “But whatever money that we get from the challenge is a plus. We want to do the best we can for all of the boys and girls.”



Sarasota's Cooper Vollmer, 6, loves to ride Carly at the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) in East County.

He comes to the ranch to see the horse he calls “Mamacita Carlita” once a week. He is legally blind.

Just like Vollmer, many other children facing physical challenges depend on SMART as well. 

Gail Clifton, the former SMART director and a current riding instructor, heads the push for the Giving Challenge. She said every dime raised goes toward scholarships for riding therapy.

“We’re looking at this as icing on the cake,” Clifton said about the money raised by the Giving Challenge. “We would be thrilled if we raised as much money as we did last time, but all the money will go to providing lessons for children who want them.”

In 2016, SMART raised $23,000 during the Giving Challenge but Clifton said SMART will put any amount to use.

“We would be grateful if it’s $2,000 or $12,000 dollars,” Clifton said. “We just want to help needy children.”



Roughly 6% of the Foundation for Dreams' budget was generated through the Giving Challenge in 2016, when the foundation received $22,800.

Foundation for Dreams provides children with special needs year-round camp opportunities, as well as summer camp. The camp provides amenities such as horseback rides, archery and boat rides.

“The Giving Challenge allows us to enhance our program,” Cassella said. “With the money that we raised last time in the challenge, we were able to provide 61 full scholarships for families in need.

The proceeds for this year’s Giving Challenge will also go to providing Foundation for Dreams more scholarships to give out. This year, the camp is bringing in a circus this summer for the campers. Cassella said that they want to make sure that no camper misses an opportunity because they couldn’t afford the camp.

“We work for children with special needs. We want them to have fun while giving parents a respite while their child is at camp,” Cassella said. “With the support of the Giving Challenge, it makes real changes possible.”

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