Most nonprofits perform a full-court press at the end of the calendar year, aiming to garner tax-deductible donations to boost their annual fundraising. But the nonprofits that take part in Central Oregon Gives have one extra player in the arena, because the program itself awards thousands in additional funds to the nonprofits that raise the most in their respective categories.
The 2022 Central Oregon Gives campaign brought in $1,027,263 in donations during its seven-week run — doubling the $500,000 goal organizers set for the 2023 campaign.
Each nonprofit that takes part in Central Oregon Gives is placed in one of several categories, including education, family & children, arts and culture, animal welfare and health and environment. The nonprofit earning the most in donations in each category earns an extra $2,000 prize; in addition, the top-earning nonprofit earns a $15,000 prize from an anonymous donor. Yet another nonprofit – this year, Desert Sky Montessori – earns $2,000 for getting the highest number of donations of $25 or less.
The Giving Plate was the top earner in the 2022 program, making it a back-to back winner after taking home the top spot during the 2021 campaign. The nonprofit plans to put those funds toward its goal of opening a free community food store in the Bend Maker's District.
The $1-million-plus in fundraising also represented a 30% increase over last year's total – something of a surprise for Aaron Switzer, publisher of the Source Weekly and founder of Central Oregon Gives, because of a change in the way nonprofits were enrolled this year.
"We instituted an application process this year and that resulted in fewer nonprofits in the program," Switzer said. "I had imagined we would receive fewer overall donations. However, the programs that did participate did an amazing job and collectively we more than doubled our goal. It was an outstanding year. I believe we are really seeing the beginning of what this online giving program can realize for the region's nonprofits."
The program is fueled largely by small donations from the community. This year, some 1,763 people donated, with 718 of those donations coming in at $25 or less.
Another key to the program is its partnership with local businesses, which offer incentive gifts to people when they donate. For every $25 donation, participants can get a thank-you gift from a different participating business. This year, donating businesses included Avid Cider, Backporch Coffee Roasters, Barre3, Boneyard Beer, Crow's Feet Commons, Crux, F45 Trainings, Fjällräven, Gear Fix, Healthy Fundamentals, High Desert Frameworks, High Desert Museum, Hayden Homes Amphitheater, Metalheads Boutiques, Powder House, Old Mill District, Roam, SCP Redmond Hotel, Silver Moon Brewing, Worthy Brewing and Yellow Brew Bus.
A new foundation
In 2022, the program that works to support local nonprofits also became a nonprofit itself. Switzer formed a nonprofit for Central Oregon Gives, "allowing for growth and financial stability," according to a press release from Central Oregon Gives.
"This year was a turning point for Central Oregon Gives," Switzer wrote. "We couldn't be happier with the results and are excited to see what we can continue to achieve in partnership with nonprofits and the Central Oregon community."