The Great Give ® 2020 Nearly Doubles Previous Record

Raises $3.5+ Million for Greater New Haven

New Haven, Conn. (May 8, 2020) –Surpassing expectations, The Great Give® 2020 was a spectacular success in bringing Greater New Haven’s community together in difficult times to raise $3.57 million online for nearly 400 nonprofits. The Great Give® is Greater New Haven’s 36-hour online giving event, created by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and conducted annually since 2010 to increase philanthropy in the Greater New Haven region of South Central Connecticut. Not only was the amount raised nearly double that of the prior year, but the number of total donors was up by 38 percent - a sign of the commitment and generosity of the region to rally for its continued well-being.

“The Great Give 2020 has demonstrated how resilient and united our community is and the power of what can happen through a connected and determined community. To raise nearly double what we raised last year against the backdrop of huge community needs, terrible uncertainty and the crippling of our local nonprofits’ ability to raise funds was an amazing experience and just what our local nonprofits needed at exactly the moment they needed it,” says William W. Ginsberg, president and CEO of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Ginsberg also reported that the amount given by Community Foundation Donor Advised Fund holders was triple that of 2019.

“The tremendous success of this year’s Great Give highlights the importance of Coming Together While We’re Apart. The hard work of The Community Foundation’s staff and generous outpouring of support from across our region highlights the deep commitment to service embedded in our community. It is a beautiful source of encouragement during these challenging times. We are motivated to build on the momentum created through this event so that our region can emerge stronger and more inclusive than before,” says Dr. Khalilah L. Brown-Dean, Associate Professor of Political Science at Quinnipiac University, Chair of The Community Foundation’s Board of Directors and Chair of the Greater New Haven COVID-19 Community Fund Grantmaking Committee.

Over $235,000 in matching funds and prizes were available for donors to unlock for their favorite nonprofits. Unlike years past, The Foundation altered the traditional large competitive prize structure in favor of adding more money to its matching funds pool to incentivize giving and increase opportunity across the board for participating nonprofits, large and small; in 2020, The Community Foundation’s matching funds pool was raised to $100,000 from $50,000 the prior year. Gifts made during The Great Give® 2020 on received a pro-rated portion of the pool; an additional $25,000 in matching funds and prizes was provided by the Valley Community Foundation, the event’s second largest sponsor after The Community Foundation. The 2020 event officially kicked off at 8:00 a.m. on May 5 and ran through 8:00 m. on May 6; advance giving, which opened on April 6 to further aid nonprofits in this unprecedented time, foretold of the event’s ultimate great success. By the official launch at 8:00 a.m. on May 5, advance giving was up 210 percent over the prior year.

The most successful nonprofit participants emerged from two groups of organizations: those using peer-to-peer fundraising to engage with a wide group of donors, and those that cultivated matching gifts from Board members or sponsors which then doubled, and in some cases, tripled the donor dollars coming in.

Hourly prizes kept the momentum going over the 36- hour event, as well as seven prize awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 in a category called You’ve Got Friends, designed to support individual donor efforts to attract gifts for their favorite nonprofits. This peer-to-peer fundraising paid off for many participating nonprofits. Prize winners in this category included: New Haven’s Havenly Treats ($5,000), Greater New Haven Community Chorus ($4,000), Hamden’s Best Video Film and Cultural Center ($3,000), The Storehouse Project Inc. ($2000), and Elm City Internationals ($1000).

"A few weeks ago, Havenly Treats was considering suspending operations completely. The refugee women we serve, and our staff, were contemplating unemployment and little social security. But in the midst of such insecurity, The Community Foundation re-imagined The Great Give to help us make it through. The new prizes and innovative Great Give allowed us to raise enough money not only to survive this crisis but also to serve people in dire need of food... the prizes were changed to emphasize peer-to-peer fundraising - a system that allowed us to expand our network, reaching many more donors than expected, and raising more money than we could possibly imagine,” says Caterina Passoni, executive director of Havenly Treats, a bakery run by and for refugee women that combines paid work experience with educational workshops and leadership development.

Havenly was also among 46 organizations to receive matching funds from KeyBank Foundation, a returning sponsor of the event that offered a matching pool to inspire giving to organizations that help women and children thrive.

Through coordination of one of its Board members, Best Video Film & Cultural Center (BVFCC) put a strong emphasis on developing a robust peer-to-peer effort, resulting in the organization doubling what it raised from the event in 2019 and surpassing its 2020 Great Give fundraising goal of $40,000 to achieve a total of $47,630 from 560 donors. Efforts included using social media to showcase videos made by supporters pledging to donate and musicians who had played their venue to explain why they thought it was an important institution to the community.

“Best Video Film & Cultural Center is overwhelmed by the generosity of the community and the support for our organization in The Great Give. Building community is at the heart of what we do—our mission statement is ‘bringing film, music, and people together.’ It isn't hard to think that that emphasis has particular resonance at a time when ‘self-isolating’ and ‘social distancing’ have become part of the everyday lexicon,” said Executive Director of Best Video
Film & Cultural Center, Hank Hoffman.

BVFCC was among 54 visual and performing arts organizations to receive matching funds through The Arts Matter Match offered by returning sponsor Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Another Arts Matter Match recipient was the Shelton-based Valley Shakespeare Festival, led by Executive Director, Tom Simonetti, who was appreciative of the timing of The Great Give in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic:

“As a theater company, this year has been rough--canceled performances, thousands in lost revenue, and opportunities to keep reaching out to the community. The Great Give came at a perfect time. Not only did the generosity of the community help us in terms of much needed dollars for when we are back up and running at full capacity, but it brought us to the online digital world through our live YouTube event of A Midsummer Night's Dream. People joined not only the Lower Naugatuck Valley but from California, Illinois, Poland, Brazil, and other places around the world! The audiences were joyful for some sort of live performance, and we were able to connect and share in our audiences’ joy through the running live chat throughout the course of the performance, and we found a new way to fulfill our mission of theater for all (even in a pandemic)."

The nonprofit to raise the most money as a result of the event was IRIS-Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services ($145,996), followed by LEAP-Leadership Education and Athletics in Partnership ($68,716), Neighborhood Music School ($63,317), Christian Community Action ($59,158) and St. Martin de Porres Academy ($59,070).

Chris George, executive director of IRIS, remarked on the different feeling of this year’s event against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis:

“It is a great honor to receive so many generous gifts. And it is also a humbling responsibility, especially at a time when so many of our neighbors are struggling to survive the pandemic. The overwhelming support from the Greater New Haven community increases our resources and resolve to help immigrant families get through this crisis. We thank all of our supporters, including the NewAlliance Foundation and Griswold Home Care for their matching incentives, and The Community Foundation for making The Great Give happen.”

Both NewAlliance Foundation and Griswold Home Care were new sponsors of The Great Give, providing a matching pool of $10,000 to participating organizations supporting literacy and $35,000 to inspire giving to organizations that serve Greater New Haven’s elder population, respectively.

LEAP Executive Director Henry Fernandez said, “These have been tough times for the whole New Haven community. In this context, it is wonderful to see how many people turned out to support LEAP and other important nonprofits through The Great Give. I especially want to thank our peer-to-peer fundraisers, folks like Bonnie Waters, Tai Richardson, and Cindy Mann who got the word out and all exceeded their goals.”

Griswold Home Care match recipient, Christian Community Action (CCA), was grateful for the event because it will help CCA give greater support to meet immediate community needs:

“CCA's commitment to offering help, housing, and hope are deep and constant, especially these days, because of the nature of our emergency programs and services. This year’s Great Give afforded us the opportunity to tell our story about current needs, engage donors in new ways and strengthen and expand our outreach. We will be able to give greater support to the people we serve because of the generous and kind donations of so many people and the efforts of The Community Foundation to make it all possible. We are most, deeply, grateful,”
said Rev. Bonita Grubbs, Executive Director at Christian Community Action, Inc.

CCA was also a recipient of matching funds provided by another returning event sponsor, Liberty Bank Foundation, which offered two-match incentives – one for gifts made to New Haven area organizations that provide shelter and housing and another to inspire giving to Valley organizations that provide assistance for basic needs.

Giving was up in dollars and number from prior years to participating Valley-based organizations, as well, including gifts made from Donor Advised Fund holders at the Valley Community Foundation (VCF).

"I truly am inspired by the level of generosity and the outpouring of support among the Valley's donors during such an unprecedented time,” said Sharon Closius, president and CEO of The Valley Community Foundation.

Gifts made through The Great Give 2020 came from all 169 Connecticut towns, 48 states (including Alaska and Hawaii) plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, and as far away as Italy, Poland, New Zealand, and Uruguay.

A new sponsorship prize for Latino-led and serving organizations was provided by the Progreso Latino Fund, a committee-advised fund of The Community Foundation established in 2003 to engage Greater New Haven around issues that impact Latinos. Prize recipient ARTE, Inc., a nonprofit that develops social networks and cultivates resources for youth, realized a 475% increase in donations and 520% increase in donors over last year’s Great Give.

Two returning prize sponsors, the Guilford Foundation and Branford Community Foundation also offered match incentives for participating organizations based in Guilford and Branford that received donations from residents of the two towns. Prize winners were Guilford Art Center, Guilford Center for Children, Branford Compassion Club, and Branford Early Learning Center.

Guilford’s Women and Family Life Center, which helps empower women and families on the shoreline to face challenges and transitions in their lives, raised more than $13,000 from the event.

“We continue to be amazed and grateful to our community for their generosity and genuine concern for the wellbeing of their neighbors during this unprecedented time,” said executive director Meghan Scanlon of the Women and Family Life Center in Guilford. “We cannot thank The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven enough for lifting up our nonprofit and all nonprofits during The Great Give. Thanks to this incredible platform, it has allowed us to stay focused on working hard to bridge the gaps in services and needs made
worse by this crisis.”

Towers Foundation, a New Haven-based senior community, saw a 194% increase in funds raised over the prior year. “We are grateful to SWF Foundation for offering the match funds and to each donor who gave through The Great Give. Every dollar raised will go directly toward our efforts to provide more healthy nutritionally-balanced meals to more of our seniors! These funds will begin changing lives.” said Gustave Keach-Longo, President/CEO of The Towers at
Tower Lane.

Another returning matching funds provider was The Konopacke Fund of The Community Foundation, established in 2013 by bequest to assist area nonprofit animal shelters. The matching pool of $10,000 to inspire giving to eligible independent, nonprofit animal shelters helped spur a 221% increase in the amount of donations and a nearly 50% increase in the number of donors in this category.

The Great Give Leaderboard

The Great Give Prizes

About The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
Thanks to the generosity of three generations of donors, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is composed of hundreds of individually named funds and distributes millions of dollars in grants annually to build a stronger Greater New Haven region. The Foundation’s 20-town service area includes Ansonia, Bethany, Branford, Cheshire, Derby, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Oxford, Seymour, Shelton, Wallingford, West Haven, Woodbridge. For more information about The Community Foundation, visit, find us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at .

Update: After accounting and review, the percentage of increased donors was revised to an increase of 38 percent. Final reconciliation will be subject to match and prize confirmations and credit card transaction adjustments. The opportunity to give via remained open through the end of May in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in more than $3.6 million ultimately being raised for Greater New Haven nonprofits.

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The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven