Go Big Give campaign helps energize philanthropic giving

A vision to create the Go Big Red type energy linked to Nebraska’s beloved Husker football program is taking on a synergy of its own now with the growing success of the Go Big Give campaign.
Launched in 2014 as a joint venture of the Heartland United Way and Grand Island Community Foundation, Go Big Give has evolved into a regional effort that raises money, and lots of it, while simultaneously lifting up the work and worthy causes of 110 area nonprofit agencies.
Hamilton County has created its own successful model of philanthropic giving over the past 40 years. Local foundations, combined, have generated more than $60 million in assets over that time, providing scholarships, matching funds and seed money for young people and projects too numerous to count. You simply can’t attach a dollar figure to the impact those funds have had, and will continue to have, on the lives of individuals and our community as a whole.
What’s fascinating about the Go Big Give campaign is that it is helping create a connection with the Heartland United Way umbrella in a most positive way. The United Way has been providing funds and support to area nonprofit agencies in Hamilton, Hall, Howard and Merrick counties for years, though in some ways it has been perceived as a Grand Island entity. That’s simply not the case, as a number of agencies benefitting from the United Way campaign either serve clientele in Hamilton County, or are based here.
A prime example of this partnership is the Edgerton Explorit Center, which was the top recipient in this year’s Go Big Give campaign, receiving just over $73,000 in donations. Mary Molliconi and her staff have built the Edgerton’s fund-raising strategy around Go Big Give to some degree, helping leverage annual contributions in a way that increases the number of dollars received.
The vision five years ago in a joint United Way/G.I. Community Foundation board meeting was to “reinvent philanthropic giving in this area,” United Way president Karen Rathke recalled this week (See related story in this edition). Last week’s record $604,226 one-day Go Big Give campaign is proof positive that their vision has become reality. As an added bonus, Hamilton County residents are also realizing that their support of the Heartland United Way benefits folks in need right here at home.
That, by any measure, is a win-win combination.
Kurt Johnson

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