A total of $292,423 was distributed to local nonprofits through their participation in the Fayette Gives event hosted by the Community Foundation of Fayette County.

The event was the first of its kind in the county and Renee Couser, executive director of CFFC, said 2020 was a good year to start it, as many nonprofit organizations are struggling financially due to the virus.

During the event, donors contributed through check or online and gave a total of more than $233,746. In addition, a $57,000 Bonus Pool, sponsored by businesses and foundations, was distributed to the organizations participating.

Couser said to participate in the Nov. 12 Fayette Gives event, nonprofit organizations in the area needed to meet certain criteria, and once they were approved, they set up a profile and directed donors to the website to give for the event. Funds in the bonus pool were used to enhance the contributions.

“Many nonprofits were forced to cancel their 2020 fundraising events,” said Daniel Gearing, CFFC 2020 Board Chair. “Thank you to everyone who supported this community-wide effort and made it possible for $292,423 to be distributed to local nonprofits, which will help strengthen Fayette County.”

The five non-profits that received the most money in donations were Touchstone Center for Crafts, City Mission-Living Stones, State Theatre Center for the Arts, East End United Community Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Laurel Region.

Touchtone Center for Crafts received the largest amount, totaling $66,479. Lindsay Gates, executive director for the center, said they were surprised at how many individual donors supported them in the event.

“We were completely stunned at the outpouring of support for the organization,” Gates said. “It really reinforced for us how much people value having access to the arts and value what we are able to offer.”

Dean Simpson, marketing manager of the center, said they are planning to use the money they received through the Fayette Gives event toward workshops, programs and their open house later this year. They are also dedicating a portion of the money to providing scholarships for Fayette County residents to attend their workshops.

“2020 was a difficult year for everyone, Touchstone included, but after such a strong outpouring of support from our community and the success of our participation in the Fayette Gives [event], we are pleased to be able to give back to the community,” Gates said.

The CFFC staff said they are happy to see a positive response to the new initiative and plan to host Fayette Gives annually. Couser said they originally planned to have a huge in-person event before the pandemic changed those plans. They are planning to hold the 2021 event virtually unless things change, however, they would like to bring in-person activity to the event in subsequent years.

“Hopefully, we will be able to put on an event where people can come in and drop off their checks and donations and make it a true community event in-person when it’s safe to do that,” she said.

The Fayette Gives website lists eligibility requirements and answers to common questions. Registration for 2021 is planned to open in March at fayettegives.org.

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