One day equals 24 hours; 1,440 minutes; 86,400 seconds.
For a multi-impact organization, one day often means millions.
A multi-impact organization is one that serves as a connector to work with donors and nonprofits. They are led by people with knowledge of the local charity landscape, which in turn allows them to use their resources to create a strong charitable impact in a city.
In 1887, community leaders in Denver created a way to collect funds for 10 local charities that became the impetus of a multi-impact organization known as the United Way. It succeeded, and grew, and the United Way today has 17 offices in Nebraska.
Although this organization has been around for more than 130 years, they have seen their organization evolve from benefiting “10 area health and welfare agencies” to benefitting hundreds of nonprofits. The United Way often holds drives through workplaces that allow employees to give to a charity of their choice. These donations are often matched by an employer, so a person giving $1 to an animal relief organization in effect gives $2.
The idea of multi-impact organizations has grown in recent years. “There is a call among the public to make philanthropy to be more democratized,” says Marjorie Maas of SHARE Omaha. “Different places are doing that differently. The Landscape Project [with OCP] uses data to help fill in gaps in community support. SHARE Omaha uses technology to identify and connect nonprofits of similar bents in order to drive relationships. Nonprofit Association of the Midlands comes at it from a continuing education standpoint.”
One of the most popular ways for multi-impact organizations to gain recognition is to hold a day of giving. Omaha Community Foundation raised more than $6.5 million for charity on May 22, the day of the popular Omaha Gives!
Lacey Studnicka, the senior director of community outreach and engagement with Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, is working with another multi-impact project to create a big difference in a short amount of time.
LFS is the host of 24 Hours of Impact, a collection of giving initiatives. The project started with Greater Omaha Chamber’s Leadership Omaha, but they did not have the capacity to host it this year, since it gained so much traction over its five-year span. The event was slated for Sept. 27, but in July the group decided to host it on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3, partnering with fellow multi-impact organizations SHAREOmaha, and Omaha Community Foundation, as well as the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
More than 160 organizations will participate in this one-day event that will that benefit people in the community.
There are plenty of people in the community who need the help, like Fraidoon Akhtari. When this former Afghanistan interpreter required resources after applying for a special visa, LFS connected with a church group to help furnish an apartment for his family. People coming into the country sometimes need assistance with immigration attorneys, job placement, or interpreting the language. LFS, located in 18 cities across the state, might also offer behavioral and child services for families like Akhtari’s.
“We want to help those who need a chance to live their best lives,” Studnicka says.
These one-day giving events use the power of media connections and holistic thinking to achieve their goals. Omaha Gives! allows Omaha Community Foundation to spread the word about their organization, which was designed to pool donations into a coordinated investment and grant-making facility. In the case of 24 Hours of Impact, the day serves as a catalyst for businesses to create fun activities and volunteer opportunities from places that want to better the community.
As the host of 24 Hours of Impact, LFS partnered with SHARE Omaha on this endeavor to connect corporate groups with a large selection of non-profits. Multi-impact organizations such as SHARE and LFS are streamlining the donation process, making it easier for people to give back.
“Anyone can enter our office and receive services at any level, no matter who they are, what their background is, and services will be available,” Studnicka explains. “Our families that we serve need so many different points of advocacy. We are for the most part able to help them, serving the whole person, not just one aspect.”
SHARE Omaha started in January 2019 and has already made a name for itself to mobilize community efforts. When many cities around Nebraska flooded in March, people could visit the website to response rapidly to donate, volunteer, or shop for necessary items to provide assistance. The shopping wish list is an extra little incentive to know exactly how a donator’s dollar amount is used. For example, Omaha Home For Boys is seeking razors, body wash, and lotion. Someone could browse the wish list and select items within his/her price range. It is then shipped directly to the non-profit. Or the Nebraska Humane Society might post an event such as Dining With Dogs, or volunteer opportunities like Canine Companion as another way to give back. Although it is a small team of three people and an intern, SHARE Omaha works very closely to make sure each entity is in sync.
“The way we approach our work, it just makes the most sense. We thought it was the best way to connect with donors as well as volunteers,” executive director Marjorie Maas says.
Thrivinci is another local multi-impact organization helping nonprofits from a different angle. This organization identifies motivated professionals willing to provide skilled volunteer services to nonprofits, whether that is accounting skills, public relations skills, board involvement, or more. Vicki Graeve-Cunningham founded Thrivinci after discovering that volunteers are more likely to continuing their volunteer work if they feel empowered.
Each of these multi-faceted organizations works towards one greater cause—helping others.
“It is so heart-warming to see people ready to serve our community,” Studnicka says.
This article was printed in the September 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.