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SpringForwardMN campaign benefits local schools, nonprofits

People can donate online to various nonprofits and schools during GiveMN's new SpringForwardMN charitable-giving campaign that ends Tuesday, May 11.

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Tanea Rogers (left), a visitation supervisor, waters the lawn Tuesday, May 4, 2021, at the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center in Brainerd as Skylar Starry, another visitation supervisor, looks down at the ground. Submitted photo

Shannon Wussow is grateful for the new SpringForwardMN charitable donation campaign by GiveMN.

The executive director of Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center in Brainerd said the past year during the coronavirus pandemic has been rough, to say the least. But the latest fundraiser from the organization behind November’s Give to the Max Day helps various schools and nonprofits.

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Shannon Wussow

“The pandemic has affected us financially in a multitude of ways,” Wussow said Tuesday, May 4. “For one, there’s been increased staffing costs because we’ve had staff that has been absent due to COVID-related reasons.”

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GiveMN links donors with organizations working to make Minnesota a better place. Its online giving website, GiveMN.org , enables charitable giving at any time and any place. But GiveMN is awarding $50,000 in bonus grants during SpringForwardMN to help boost donors’ generosity.

RELATED: Give to the Max Day encourages charitable giving during pandemic
“Our mission as an organization is to grow giving and inspire generosity, and we do that through giving events like SpringForwardMN and Give to the Max Day,” said Jake Blumberg, executive director of GiveMN, during a phone interview Tuesday.

The SpringForwardMN campaign has raised more than $600,000 for 1,155 organizations as of Tuesday afternoon, but the campaign continues through Tuesday, May 11. Donors can search online by keyword or location, for example, to find a cause they would like to give to.

“Last year, in response to the initial stay-at-home order related to COVID-19, we created a campaign called GiveAtHomeMN, which raised more than $5.2 million for nearly 3,000 organizations in response to the pandemic, through our platform,” Blumberg said Tuesday.

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Jake Blumberg is the executive director of GiveMN, a collaborative nonprofit venture to transform philanthropy in Minnesota by growing overall giving and moving more of it online. Submitted photo

Two hundred donors who gave during the GiveAtHomeMN campaign had their generosity boosted as part of the $68,000 bonus grant pool, which was made possible by GiveMN’s partners at the Bush Foundation and U.S. Bank.

“This year, we asked organizations what would be the most helpful as we continue to work through the pandemic but also look ahead to what’s next, and they asked us to do an encore event. That encore event is SpringForwardMN, which is an opportunity for donors to support organizations as we try to take our next step out of this year of crisis and towards rebuilding,” Blumberg said.

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SpringForwardMN is a charitable-giving campaign driven by the Minnesota nonprofits and the schools that GiveMN supports. Submitted logo

SpringForwardMN is a campaign driven by the nonprofits and the schools that GiveMN supports, such as Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center, which has worked with victims of domestic violence through a variety of programs since 1978.

“When surveyed, nearly 1,000 organizations — 70% of them — asked for us to do an event that would help them as they look towards recovery from the past year’s crises, so this is a campaign in response to those community needs and requests,” Blumberg said.

Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center is a nonprofit that provides a 24-hour intake to emergency shelter for individuals experiencing domestic violence including women (along with their children and pets) and men.

RELATED: Nonprofits feel pandemic's ripple effect with fewer volunteers
“We’ve also had increased expenses during the pandemic, so we could continue providing services but had to be creative in how we did that, so there was definitely more of a focus on technology … during the stay-at-home orders and social distancing,” Wussow said.

Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center had 182 volunteers last year and many were seniors, according to officials, who said the volunteers completed about 3,790 hours of service.

RELATED: When home isn't safe: Domestic violence concerns during stay-at-home orders
“We’ve also seen a reduction in the fundraising revenue that we have typically or that we budgeted for because in-person events were not taking place, and we really still aren’t doing that, so our focus has shifted a lot to virtual events and virtual services as well, but we have stayed open the entire time,” Wussow said.

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The shelter provided residential services last year to 410 people and nine pets — a 45% increase from the previous year. An additional 5,522 people received non-residential services from the shelter, a 15% increase from 2019, according to Wussow.

RELATED: Area nonprofits welcome back vaccinated senior volunteers
Blumberg said of SpringForwardMN, “It is a campaign that has been structured to help highlight organizations that have told us they were directly impacted by either COVID-19 or the racial reckoning that we are having in the state and across the country.”

Donors can look for local organizations by searching GiveMN.org , using local ZIP codes to look.

RELATED: Garden ceremony celebrates Alex and Brandon center
“There are search filters for organizations that are supporting our frontline workers. There are search filters for organizations that are working to make a more equitable and just Minnesota and other search filters as well,” Blumberg said of SpringForwardMN’s searchable database.

Every nonprofit and school registered with the IRS as a nonprofit or school in the state of Minnesota can be found and supported through GiveMN.org , according to Blumberg.

RELATED: Women's shelter, child safety center continue services but change procedures amid COVID-19 pandemic
“What we would use that money for is to provide food for an increased number of clients, school supplies for kids to be able to succeed at distance learning … technology needs for virtual school and court hearing and then any other PPE (personal protective equipment) that we may need as well,” Wussow said.

Blumberg said of SpringForwardMN, “When folks read this, we hope they then go over to our website and support a cause they care about again. … There are a number of organizations within the Brainerd area that are participating.”

Heartland Animal Rescue Team, Lakes Area Music Festival, Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen, Bridges of Hope and Brainerd Public Schools Foundation are just some examples of the more than 270 nonprofits or schools in the Brainerd lakes area that a person can donate to.

SpringForwardMN

To participate in SpringForwardMN, donors may visit www.GiveMN.org and search for the causes they care about most by name, keyword, ZIP code and more.

The SpringForwardMN period began Saturday, May 1, and continues through Tuesday, May 11, with random drawings throughout for $50,000 in prize grants for Minnesota organizations.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .

Related Topics: NONPROFITSTHINGS TO DO
I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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