Manatee has 52 organizations participating in second annual fundraising event

vmannix@bradenton.comMarch 4, 2013 

MANATEE -- Gina Spicer has been going full tilt boogie for the past month.

Working social media 24/7.

Lining up business partners at all hours.

Reaching out to thousands of potential supporters.

That's what gearing up for the second annual 36-Hour Giving Challenge beginning 7 a.m. March 5 has done to the Manatee Children's Services director of events and fundraising.

"It has consumed every waking moment," Spicer said.

Manatee Children's Services did not participate in the inaugural challenge, so she's making up for lost time and then some.

Last year's event raised $2.4 million with 10,700 gifts for 109 participating nonprofits.

This year's event the field has almost tripled at 285.

Manatee Children's Services, which serves 16,000 families from Sarasota to Tampa, is one of 52 Manatee-based nonprofits vying for money.

"It's a little daunting, it's new, it's scary," Spicer said. "But I'm determined to do whatever it takes to do well

by reaching out to as many friends, families, businesses and donors as possible."Including putting up a large canvas outside the Ramada Inn, 7150 US 41, Bradenton, for folks to apply their handprints in support of Manatee Children's Services.

"Every penny is important. Every dollar counts. We could raise a lot of money for kids who don't have a choice," Spicer said.

The Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Patterson Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, Charlotte Community Foundation and William G. and Marie Selby Foundation.

Participating nonprofits can also earn their share of $645,000 in grant incentives and 1:1 matching support for new and increased gifts over the last challenge.

All the nonprofits are profiled in The Giving Partner, an online tool to assist potential donors.

Donors can visit www.givingpartnerchallenge.org.

"This event has increased community awareness of nonprofits, ones that might not be known otherwise," said Marilyn Howard, executive director for the Manatee Community Foundation. "They can put themselves in position of doing better through the challenge than if they were trying to do it on their own."

Sabrina Crain-Sweeney is counting on it.

She's executive director for to Learn to Fish, Inc., whose mission is assisting disadvantaged women with children to lead healthy, productive lives.

"This is an opportunity that isn't here everyday, to get that kind of funding and increase my knowledge how to get our name out there there," Crain-Sweeney said.

She's sent out a wave of emails to potential supporters and is getting an assist from pastors of five churches affiliated with the nonprofit.

"We have-nots need the help," Crain-Sweeney said.

Adele Erozer can relate to that sentiment.

To the executive director at Turning Points, the challenge is about more than about money.

"It's an opportunity to get our name out, raise awareness to our name change from the Community Coalition on Homelessness," she said. "If we don't get money it's not good, but it's not the end of the world. We do hope to attract new donors."

David Potter, executive director at the Family Partnership Center, said whatever funds they get from the challenge is vital.

"It's an opportunity to raise money to maintain a highly skilled staff to reach these families," he said. "It's going into direct services."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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