Nonprofits have high hopes for annual GiveBIG

Early giving is underway for one of the biggest philanthropic efforts of the year 

The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG is on May 10, but donors can schedule their giving in advance to automatically process next Wednesday. 

The 24-hour online giving event generated $22 million in contributions in 2016 to more than 1,600 nonprofits, up from $16.2 million the year before (a 30 percent increase). That figure was also buoyed by nearly $4 million in stretch and matching funds. There was also a 13 percent jump in the number of donors, to nearly 45,000. The event was plagued by tech troubles, along with other giving efforts across the country, caused by increased website traffic, leading the Foundation to extend the campaign an extra day.

With those hiccups hopefully behind them, numerous organizations helping those in Queen Anne and Magnolia are hoping the community steps up to the occasion. 

Lisa Moore, executive director of the Queen Anne Helpline, said the organization has a goal this year of $25,000. That includes a $6,000 dollar-for-dollar match provided by Metropolitan Market. 

“That’s a huge, helpful incentive for people to donate,” she said. 

Moore said the theme of this year’s GiveBIG, “now more than ever,” is particularly appropriate. 

“There’s sort of this perfect storm in Seattle between the rising rents pushing people — longtime residents in many cases — out, but also a huge concern that at the federal level, what’s going to happen to the social safety net that a lot of people depend on, including a lot of seniors,” she said. “The outlook is not good for a lot of those programs.”

The Helpline, which provides financial assistance to those living in the 98109, 98119, and 98199 zip codes, has also evolved over the past year by adding case management services. Moore said it’s been a successful addition to the organization’s efforts, with a focus on financial literacy and budgeting, along with connecting clients with resources and benefits they’re eligible to receive. 

“We’re really trying to figure out how we can offer a more sustainable solution, to help empower people to become more self-sufficient so that they don’t need our assistance on an on-going basis,” Moore said. “We’re really set up to provide more of that one-time emergency assistance.”

Instead of going directly to the operating budget, the Queen Anne Food Bank at Sacred Heart has a specific project in mind with GiveBIG donations. 

Director Stephanie Monroney said the hope is to buy additional shelving and refrigeration units, and to overhaul the layout of the room where customers pick up their groceries, “to make it more of an experience like shopping in a store versus picking things out of a crate.” 

“Anything we earn from this is going to go a long way toward making the shopping experience more pleasant and more respectful and more dignified for our customers,” she said. 

The food bank is also dealing with an increase in demand. The “pack program” was launched earlier this year as an extension to its Monday-Thursday meal program to supplement customers’ food needs for the weekend. The first week drew a little more than 60 people. Last Friday? 115. 

The John Hay Foundation is another organization hoping to get a boost from the day of giving, launching fundraising efforts for “Project Playground.” 

Master plan design work (along with the creation of a construction estimate and general work timeline) with landscape architects is wrapping up, courtesy of a grant from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, and planning is underway for the project’s next steps, including identifying possible grant money, along with moving forward into construction documents. The intention is to do the work in phases, with the first starting next summer. The scope of that work will depend on how much is raised through grants and donations.

Other local organizations participating include Picture Perfect Queen Anne, the Queen Anne Historical Society, and the Queen Anne Farmers Market. 

Several arts entities that call Seattle Center home, like the Seattle Opera, the Seattle Children’s Museum, Northwest Folklife, and the Friends of KEXP are also taking part. 

To learn more about GiveBIG, see a full list of participating nonprofits, or to make a donation, go to