More than 600 nonprofit organizations and 13,000 people are set to raise millions of dollars for the Miami Foundation's fourth-annual Give Miami Day this Thursday, November 19. Arguably the most active day of philanthropic giving has already raised nearly $10 million since its inaugural event in 2012, setting a precedent for the most active 24 hours of charitable giving in Florida history. Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of the Miami Foundation, is confident donations will surpass $7 million this year.
"We have a record number of organizations this year, more than 100 more than last year," he says. "It's really one of the most successful giving days in the country. I think this can be the biggest Give Miami Day since we've started. Miami is a place with big and bold ambitions, so Give Miami Day should be also."
For 24 hours, beginning at midnight today, anyone can go to givemiamiday.org, browse through hundreds of nonprofit profiles or search for a specific one they want to support, and make a charitable gift to the organization right on the site. Though there are hundreds to sift through, the website separates organizations into categories and gives brief descriptions of each one. Participants can filter nonprofits based on cause and size. For the indecisive, users can donate to the bonus pool, which will be divided equally among all participating organizations.
"Too often we focus on the deficits in Miami," Soto says. "But Give Miami Day is a time to show our assets and what's going well. There really is a deep generosity in this community that we don't give ourselves credit for."
The event stretches beyond the virtual world too. It will unite hundreds of Miamians at the Community Block Party, a free family concert event, in Marlins Park's West Plaza from 5 to 8 p.m. during Give Miami Day. It will feature kids’ games, food trucks, nonprofit exhibits, and the award-winning local Afro-Latin band Suénalo. "We're trying to a create a culture of philanthropy," Soto says. "People are generous when it comes to helping, and the Miami Foundation is trying to build on that generosity and long-lasting philanthropy."
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To prepare organizations small and large for the giving day, the Miami Foundation offers training and seminars for nonprofits on how to be successful and raise significant funds. This year, the website will feature three buttons, divided among small, medium, and large organizations, which will show how each nonprofit measures up against others in its designated category in an attempt to level the playing field. "We put up the folks who have had the most success and have them share their story," he says. "I think it's more about creativity than manpower of an organization that dictates success. We've had very small organizations be some of the top raisers."
Last year, the 520 participating nonprofits raised $5.2 million from donors across Miami-Dade County, the United States, and more than 30 nations. Among the organizations that participated last year, Touching Miami With Love, a program that inspires, educates, and empowers children and adults in Overtown and west Homestead, raised more than $79,000 from 194 donations; Miami Rescue Mission, which helps the homeless find meals, shelter, and residential programs, raised more than $67,000 from 194 donations.
"This brings people together in our community in ways that don't happen often enough," Soto says. "You see it during a sports championship, where people are high-fiving and embracing each other from all parts of the community. Give Miami is a yearly opportunity to bring the community together like that. It fuels a pride in our community and makes people take note of the abundance of generosity we have here."