Kelly Brooks is the founder and executive director of SHARE Charlotte, a one-stop shop for 400+ CLT nonprofits. With a mission of inspiring investment in the local nonprofit community, SHARE Charlotte has helped local nonprofits raise over $12 million through campaigns such as #GivingTuesdayCLT and #summershare. In 2016, #GivingTuesdayCLT was the largest community-wide Giving Tuesday campaign ever.
Brooks: We saw the global movement gaining traction and knew that individual nonprofits were going to want to get in on the conversation. SHARE believes that a collective voice is stronger and louder than a bunch of individual voices. We met with a handful of nonprofits and asked them if they would be interested in objective leadership of this kind of campaign. They said yes, so we went to work! Today, SHARE brings hundreds of Charlotte nonprofits together to raise awareness around their individual causes and to promote giving in general. Individuals can donate directly to our partner nonprofits, and sponsors help by donating to a larger general fund that benefits all of our partner nonprofits.
SUG: Why are regional efforts important to supplement the national giving campaign? How can local communities help?
Brooks: The local communities (and individual organizations) are the heart and soul of the Giving Tuesday movement. It’s where the magic happens! In order to give, you have to feel connected in some way. The local stories and needs are what touches people, especially when they know their “good” will make their community better. As a local community, we are the ones activating and spreading the message of how powerful a collective effort like this — focused solely on good — can be.
SUG: How can both individuals and groups (companies, clubs, churches) help a local campaign succeed?
Brooks: The biggest support we need is spreading the message to as many parts of the community as possible. We need to touch people with our message and inspire them to take part in this collective movement. Any kind of group (corporations, small businesses, churches) can partner with the campaign to get the word out and help raise donations. They can also put their employees to work in the community supporting nonprofits in a variety of ways — volunteering, raising money and advocating. Small businesses are uniquely positioned to donate a percentage of their sales to a nonprofit or our general fund, which goes to all partner nonprofits. They can also create custom products or services in celebration of #GivingTuesdayCLT and donate the proceeds to the campaign or an individual nonprofit. Think a custom coffee drink or cocktail, specialty pizza or a yoga class! This campaign is a unique opportunity for our community to come together for good.
SUG: What are practical ways that local Giving Tuesday campaigns can grow fundraising and volunteering efforts?
Brooks: This campaign is an opportunity for nonprofits, local businesses and community partners to get creative. It is the perfect opportunity to think differently and take risks. #GivingTuesdayCLT is grassroots and largely a social media conversation. We recommend that they think of a unique goal, which can be financial donations, volunteer pledges, tangible donations or simply increase engagement on social media. #GivingTuesday is the rare time of year that people are actually looking for nonprofits to give to rather than the other way around. Take that opportunity to stand out and tell them why they need to give to you. They can also use it as a fun way to kick off their end-of-year or holiday campaign.
SUG: It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by heartbreaking headlines, and by the tangible pain we see in our own communities. What advice would you give to someone who wants to help but doesn’t know where to start?
Brooks: Just start — do something! It honestly doesn’t matter how big or small, whether it is time or money. We all have something to give but if we wait around for the “perfect” thing or “perfect” time we’ll be waiting forever. The worst thing we can do is to do nothing. At the end of the day, you will get so much more out of it than you give. Serving your neighbors and your community will ground you and open your heart. It will help you feel connected, less isolated and more powerful.
SUG: In a season of holiday shopping and Black Friday, how would you recommend parents balance gift giving with opportunities to teach their children kindness and service?
Brooks: The first step is talking about it, modeling the behavior that you want from your children. Even if you don’t necessarily have the time to volunteer yourself, you can discuss different issues in your community to make them more real for the kids. Help them understand what some of their neighbors are going through and talk about ways that you can help. I believe giving comes from the heart. The more we can connect our heart to our gifts, the better.
Thanks to Kelly and the SHARE Charlotte team for doing great work in our hometown! Discover ways you can give back on Giving Tuesday, and start collecting money for worthy causes now.