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North Texas Giving Day Launches With a Focus on Equity

Get to know some of the participating nonprofits on Dallas’ most important philanthropic day of the year. (And it’s already on pace to shatter previous fundraising records.)
Daniel Clayton
In 2020, North Texas nonprofits faced unprecedented demands amid the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders. There were impossibly long lines at food banks, a surge of domestic violence incidents, and an influx of Dallasites needing services at both homeless shelters and on the streets. Nonprofits couldn’t afford to wait for North Texas Giving Day, our region’s preeminent fundraising event that takes place each September. Instead, NTGD collaborated with United Way Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys to launch an emergency day of donations on May 5, 2020, in addition to the regularly scheduled North Texas Giving Day in September. In all, last year was NTGD’s most successful yet: $58.8 million was raised through 106,000 donors, benefiting over 3,200 local nonprofits.

In the year since 2020’s North Texas Giving Day, most nonprofits have settled into a rhythm and adjusted to serving our community during a pandemic, but the demands for their services remain high.

The 2021 iteration of North Texas Giving Day kicked off this morning, and a record 3,367 local organizations are asking for the public’s support. The 18-hour initiative is led by the Communities Foundation of Texas and connects individual donors to causes they care about, from grassroots movements to huge operations. Early giving opened on September 1, and by September 22, $16 million in donations had already come in. Many larger nonprofits have had funds pouring in for weeks; North Texas Food Bank hit $500,000, and Children’s Medical Center Foundation reached $300,000. (Check out the leaderboard here.) It’s already on track to shatter the previous record; by 10:30 a.m., participating nonprofits had raised a collective $30 million.

North Texas Giving Day typically relies on in-person events to garner excitement. This year, NTGD is hosting both socially distanced, in-person events and virtual programming. Today’s lineup includes The Senior Source’s 60th Birthday Bash, a socially distanced celebration for local nursing home residents and isolated seniors; a North Texas Giving Day happy hour for young professionals; and a concert presented by the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation at the Levitt Pavilion near the UT Arlington campus. Additionally, the 2021 North Texas Giving Day is presented by Amazon, and Amazon trucks have been deployed today to surprise participating nonprofits with prizes and wish list fulfillments.

North Texas Giving Day programming kicked off on September 14 with a conversation between Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and author and journalist Jim Schutze. Schutze’s pivotal book, The Accommodation: The Politics of Race in an American City, was just re-released by Deep Vellum Books with a new foreword by Price. Originally published in the 80s, the book has been out of print for decades, though its popularity continues to grow–last year, a copy was listed on Amazon for $944, and a bootleg PDF version has long been circulating.

Communities Foundation of Texas intentionally launched North Texas Giving Day with a discussion about our city’s history of racism “to provide a space for diverse thinkers and doers to discuss community issues in the hopes that the conversations will continue and result in positive, sustainable, meaningful action,” said Alfreda Norman, the board chair at CFT. “[We’re] creating connections and opportunities that help us to better see and understand each other, to learn about where we live, and to dream about the community we want to build together.”

LeVeaux, Schutze, and Commissioner Price.

Schutze and Price’s conversation, which was moderated by CFT’s Chief Marketing Officer Noelle LeVeaux, touched on the racial inequities in North Texas, from food deserts to lack of educational opportunities to redlining, and questioned whether any measurable change had taken place in the years after the book’s initial release. (You can watch the entire fireside chat here or read editor Matt Goodman’s recap here.)

To wrap up the event, Chris McSwain, CFT’s director of community engagement, stated that one way to work toward a more equitable North Texas is to give to nonprofits that serve BIPOC communities or that are involved in public policy. “We have been very intentional this year in making sure you can filter by organizations that are doing racial equity work, organizations that are serving historically marginalized communities, and those that are led by people of color,” said McSwain. In addition, donors can sort by basic benchmarks like nonprofits’ causes, the counties they serve, and their operating budgets.

One such organization is the T.D. Jakes Foundation, which addresses the racial disparities in North Texas education systems and the resulting inequities in achieving upward mobility. The T.D. Jakes Foundation offers STEAM programming to North Texans of all ages, from primary school students to adults in job training programs, to ensure their success in the modern workforce. The nonprofit is participating in North Texas Giving Day for the first time this year.

“Dallas is our home, and we will always do what we can to support our neighbors,” says Hattie Hill, the organization’s President and CEO. “North Texas Giving Day is such a unique opportunity to come together with other local organizations and support each other’s efforts.” To donate to this nonprofit, visit its NTGD page here.

Another nonprofit, For the Love of Sunshine, is also participating in North Texas Giving Day for the first time and has set a modest goal of $10,000. This organization works to remove transportation barriers for North Texans experiencing homelessness. Individuals who are enrolled in work or educational programs can fill out an application process to receive a new bike, which “alleviates the transportation woes of our homeless population by providing bikes for those looking for employment, attending medical appointments, and [taking] classes to better their situations,” says Executive Director Akeisha Shipman. Support For the Love of Sunshine here.

In contrast, for many nonprofits, North Texas Giving Day has been a critical source of funding for many years. New Friends New Life, which offers support and resources to women and girls escaping trafficking and sexual exploitation, can quantify just how much of an impact the 2020 event had on its operations. “We are so thankful to the 215 donors who donated $99,929 to New Friends New Life on North Texas Giving Day,” says CEO Bianca Jackson. “Your generous contributions helped restore and empower nearly 400 women and girls who called NFNL their place of peace in the midst of a global pandemic.” So far, New Friends New Life has raised nearly $36,000. Help the organization by donating here.

National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.’s Dallas Metropolitan Chapter advocates on behalf of Black women and girls in the areas of health, education, and economic empowerment. Last year, this organization raised over $3,000 to support its mission of delivering financial literacy and other advocacy programming to communities in need. This year, says Sonya Irby, the president of the Dallas Metropolitan Chapter, “funds will help support the procurement of speakers for our Sister-Nomic$ Financial Literacy programming to provide financial resources and information to businesses and individuals recovering from the impact of the pandemic: employment loss, financial loss, debt recovery, and investing for the future.” Support National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. here.

Family Gateway, which aids children and families affected by homelessness, also needs the public’s support more than ever. Typically, the nonprofit receives between 300 and 400 calls per month from families who need help. In the first half of August alone, Family Gateway fielded over 1,300 calls. The organization is now operating two shelter locations and overflowing into additional space so that North Texas children don’t have to spend the night in a car or on the street. “North Texas Giving Day helps us further our mission to provide stability and life-changing supportive services to families with children experiencing homelessness,” says Ellen Magnis, President and CEO of Family Gateway. “Last year, we raised $102,219, which was more than 2.5 times our original goal. With [that] level of support, we can operate our emergency shelter for approximately one month.” Family Gateway has raised over $32,000 this year; click here to donate.

“Nonprofits need your donations, your commitment to service, and your advocacy for their work.

Monica Egert Smith

Though the aforementioned organizations provide critical tools to meet an individual’s basic needs–like education, housing, and transportation–there are also many nonprofits that focus on enrichment.

Plano Civic Chorus, for example, has offered North Texans the chance to perform and enjoy choral music for nearly 50 years. Its budget is funded by membership dues, grants, donations, and ticket sales, but with canceled performances due to COVID-19, the latter is nearly impossible. The organization plans to use this year’s money to sponsor a local composer in residence, promote culturally diverse compositions, reach a more diverse group of people interested in the choral arts, and hold master classes and seminars.

“The first year we made North Texas Giving Day our primary fundraiser, we raised $13,000, but each of the last three years has seen increases,” said Bob Koehl, the president of Plano Civic Chorus. “This year we hope to raise $33,000. We are ready to all sing together again and look forward to inviting our audience back in greater numbers.” Support Plano Civic Chorus here.

Whether Dallasites contribute financially or simply spread the word about North Texas Giving Day, our involvement is crucial. Says Monica Egert Smith, senior vice president and Chief Giving and Community Impact Officer at CFT, today is our chance to “be part of a community-wide movement to lift up our region, to be the good, to show up for one another, and to celebrate generosity. Nonprofits need your donations, your commitment to service, and your advocacy for their work.”

The annual event lasts until midnight.

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