The Pittsburgh Foundation

Critical attention to critical needs: Announcing May 23 Critical Needs Alert giving effort

$1.2 million fundraising goal in support of vital human services
Largest ever for Critical Needs Alert giving event                                                   

PITTSBURGH, March 23, 2017 – To support nonprofits that provide basic needs to vulnerable populations, The Pittsburgh Foundation is organizing its Critical Needs Alert online fundraising event this year with a public donations goal of $600,000 fortified with a $600,000 match pool from The Pittsburgh Foundation to ensure success.

The Critical Needs event, under the #SafetyNetPGH banner, is scheduled for Tuesday, May 23, from 8 a.m. to midnight through the Foundation’s donation portal. #SafetyNetPGH will benefit 93 nonprofits in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. The significant increase in the match pool from past years stems from the Foundation’s decision to suspend this year’s Day of Giving event in Allegheny County. That event has supported a wide range of nonprofits, but Foundation officials see increased pressures on nonprofits struggling to meet basic needs and have decided to narrow the focus. Funders in Butler and Westmoreland counties are exploring running a Day of Giving event this fall.

“The demand for essential human services in the region is significant enough right now, but with the policies being proposed as a result of the political sea change in the state and federal governments, future funding is at risk and demand is certain to increase,” said Foundation President and CEO Maxwell King.  “We believe Pittsburgh’s community foundation must lead now on the moral imperative, and the Critical Needs event is key to jump-starting the legendary generosity that residents are known for in assisting the most vulnerable.” 

This year’s Critical Needs Alert aligns with the Foundation’s 100 Percent Pittsburgh organizing principle, which seeks to ensure that residents who live at or near the federal poverty line – at least one-third of the region’s population – have access to the region’s improved economy. Despite that improvement, nonprofits are reporting significant increases in demand for such basic services as housing, transportation and child care.

The Foundation’s $600,000 leverage pool is made up of $400,000 in grants from the Foundation and $200,000 from its donors. Three previous Critical Needs Alerts raised a total of $2.5 million, including match funds, and each targeted a specific area of need - food insecurity in 2013 and housing insecurity in 2014 and 2015. This year’s online giving event will benefit nonprofits that provide direct service in five areas that will strengthen the safety net of essential human services:

  • Child Care - Programs providing child care for infants and children up to age 6. (Those that provide only before- or after-school programming do not qualify.) 
  • Food and Nutrition - Organizations such as food pantries, food banks and soup kitchens that provide food to those who don’t have the ability to meet daily needs. 
  • Housing - Organizations providing direct shelter to individuals and families facing homelessness or other housing crises. 
  • Physical and Mental Health - Organizations providing clinical physical and mental health care.
  • Transportation - Organizations with a core mission that includes providing transportation to those in need. (School programs that provide transportation to students from the core program do not qualify.)

The Foundation is inviting nonprofits with core missions in five basic needs areas to participate. The response deadline is May 16.

The catalyst for 16 hours of giving: Since even this year’s record-setting leverage pool can’t provide dollar-for-dollar matching, the #SafetyNetPGH campaign will prorate payouts from the pool based on the total raised by each organization. The goal is to encourage public giving over the full 16 hours of the Critical Needs Alert. Donations of $25 to $1,000 per donor will be eligible for matching dollars.

“In previous giving events, which had dollar-for-dollar matches, the pool would be depleted in a matter of hours. After that, giving activity would fall off sharply,” said Kelly Uranker, director of the Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy, who oversees the Foundation’s online fundraising events. “The prorated method encourages people to keep giving, leading to more donations and more opportunities for nonprofits to increase their individual donor bases.”

Day of Giving on hiatus: The Foundation is suspending the Allegheny County Day of Giving event this year to focus its public campaigns on shoring up support for basic needs. Since the first Day of Giving in 2009, the program has evolved from offering dollar-for-dollar match pools to increasing the capacity of nonprofits to run their own online giving efforts. In 2016, the Foundation’s Day of Giving shifted from offering match pools to offering incentive funding to support nonprofits in raising their own match pools. Participants judged the effort a success: Allegheny County nonprofits self-reported raising $2.35 million in matching funds.

Technology partner CiviCore: The Pittsburgh Foundation will utilize the online giving platform CiviCore for the #SafetyNetPGH Critical Needs Alert. CiviCore’s platform powered the successful Sept. 21 Day of Giving last year, through which 15,700 gifts were made to nonprofits in Allegheny, Westmoreland and Butler counties. CiviCore has successfully partnered with community foundations and nonprofits on giving events that have raised more than $200 million. The company engages in multi-level contingency and communication planning before every giving event.

“CiviCore has invested heavily in providing a reliable and secure platform for our clients. We have evaluated every aspect of our infrastructure to make sure that it is secure and reliable and has multiple redundancy and failover protections,” said CiviCore CEO Charles Naumer. “Our entire team knows how important it is that our systems remain up and running throughout the entire giving day and is dedicated to ensuring that happens.”  

Critical Needs Alert giving events align with the Foundation’s mission of improving the quality of life in the Pittsburgh region by evaluating and addressing community issues, promoting responsible philanthropy and connecting donors to the critical needs of the community.

National giving programs on the horizon include Give Local America Day, scheduled for May 2, and the national day of giving, Giving Tuesday, set for Nov. 28.

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