COVID increases importance of Fairfield County Giving Day

Photo of Katrina Koerting
Fairfield County's Community Foundation President and CEO Juanita James speaks at the kickoff for Fairfield County's Giving Day, the region's biggest philanthropic day of the year, at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Conn. Thursday, March 1, 2018.

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation President and CEO Juanita James speaks at the kickoff for Fairfield County's Giving Day, the region's biggest philanthropic day of the year, at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Conn. Thursday, March 1, 2018.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

Hundreds of nonprofit organizations, businesses and donors will virtually come together on Feb. 25 for Fairfield County’s Giving Day, a 24-hour online fundraising campaign.

This is the eighth year Fairfield County's Community Foundation has hosted the event, which has raised $9.3 million since it started in 2014.

Last year, the event raised more than $1.65 million from 12,666 donors to benefit 390 nonprofits serving the towns and cities in Fairfield County, according to the foundation.

“Fairfield County’s Giving Day has been a remarkable success for eight years, raising much-needed funding for hundreds of nonprofits each year that support the people, communities and causes in our region,” Juanita James, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Donations can be made online at FCGives.org on Feb. 25 until midnight. There will be a virtual launch party at 8:30 a.m., as well as different challenges and additional funding matches from businesses throughout the day for the nonprofits participating.

While always online, the virtual aspect is especially important this year because of COVID-19, which has hampered more traditional in-person fundraising events — a crucial part of the organization’s budget — organizers said.

The event also offers the organizations training for online campaigns.

“The online fundraiser is even more timely this year as the coronavirus pandemic amplifies need and emphasizes the reliance on virtual connections with donors,” the foundation said in a news release.

The pandemic has also increased the importance of the donations, organizers said.

“Many nonprofits have told us the donations they received last winter from Giving Day 2020, held two weeks before state shutdowns, allowed them time to pivot their plans and help keep their doors open this year,” James said. “In unpredictable times, Fairfield County’s Giving Day 2021 will provide a familiar and proven online fundraising event for our nonprofit partners and generous community early in the new year.”

James said nonprofits are facing unprecedented challenges to continue operations during the pandemic. Many arts organizations closed their doors and human service providers are struggling to meet increased need while keeping providers and clients safe, she said.

As of Wednesday morning, nearly 400 organizations had registered for the event, including about 20 in Westport, another 20 in Fairfield, and organizations in Southport, Greens Farms and Weston.

kkoerting@newstimes.com