Mark your calendar for a fun, easy way to make a difference right here in Fairfield County. March 5 is our second annual Giving Day, a 24-hour period of donating online at FCGives.org to support more than 300 local nonprofits throughout Fairfield County.

Our goal this year is to raise $1 million, which is much needed. The vast majority (78%) of Connecticut nonprofits have been facing a significant increase in demand for their services, according to the most recent research from the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Due to reduced contributions, 57% of the nonprofits were unable to meet that demand.

When we teamed up last year to launch the inaugural Giving Day, we were thrilled donors contributed a very generous $750,000. A jump to $1 million this year would be tremendous.

Here’s how Giving Day works: For the 24 hours of Thursday, March 5, from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., you can donate online at FCGives.org (minimum contribution is $10). Using this easy, secure website, you can search for your favorite local nonprofits or causes and make donations to support their important work (all participating nonprofits were vetted through the registration process). Everyone is encouraged to participate: individuals, families, companies, clubs and groups.

Your gift, whatever the amount, will also help the nonprofits compete for 30 cash prizes ranging from $500 to $25,000. These additional awards are funded by lead sponsor Bank of America, other sponsoring businesses, plus institutions and individual donors.

There’s no shortage of reasons to give. Local nonprofits help feed the nearly one-in-10 families in Fairfield County who struggle to find their next meal, and the nearly 35,000 children living in food insecure households. They help bolster our cultural programs, strengthen our schools, shelter the homeless, train the unemployed, protect our environment—the list goes on and on. These groups need our support so they can continue to strengthen the communities we call home.

A recent study by Bank of America showed that a majority of surveyed households give to at least one charity, and that people are motivated to give financially for a variety of reasons, including seeing how a gift can make a difference.

Through Fairfield County Giving Day, we can see the difference a gift makes right here in our own cities and towns. Whether your passion is helping to feed the hungry, giving books to children, putting a roof over someone’s head, finding animals their forever homes, or other causes, you can make an impact in our community.

Whatever the motivation, we encourage you to join us online at FCGives.org for Fairfield County’s Giving Day on March 5. Every contribution can make Fairfield County an even better place for us to call home.

Juanita T. James is President and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, which has awarded more than $180 million in grants to nonprofits throughout Fairfield County and beyond since 1992. Bill Tommins is Southern Connecticut market president at Bank of America, which provided more than $2.6 million in grants to Connecticut nonprofits in 2014.

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