Big Give goes virtual; Awareness campaign starts this month

The Big Give Brownsville 2020 fundraising campaign, originally scheduled to take place in May, was interrupted by the pandemic, though now it’s back in virtual form.

The campaign, which normally involves an army of volunteers with orange and blue buckets manning major intersections around Brownsville one Saturday a year, raises supplemental funds for charitable nonprofits as well as arts and culture organizations. Organizers are trying to spread the word about how things will proceed this year, with in-person fundraising suspended in the name of public health.

The campaign’s coordinators have developed a new online platform to create awareness of Big Give 2020 through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and provide details about the participating nonprofits — mission, history, service to the community — as well as information about how people can volunteer for those organizations.

That effort begins the end of this month. Invited to participate this year are 22 nonprofits. Each is being asked, beginning Oct. 1, to post on social media video or other content advertising the organization’s name and mission and featuring at least one of three Big Give key phrases: “All for one, one for all,” “From Brownsville, for Brownsville” and/or “Give back, give local.” The nonprofits are asked to re-post these messages daily in the weeks leading up to the actual giving campaign itself, and also exhibit this year’s Big Give logo signaling their participation in the fundraiser.

The Big Give “Do Good” Challenge itself will run Oct. 19-23. During this five-day period, each participating nonprofit must post a donation request and information on how to donate, on social media, at least once each day. The Do Good challenges are to be posted on each organization’s Facebook page and on the Big Give Facebook page as a way of encouraging a chain of donations by urging others to get involved. Money raised by the campaign will be distributed to the nonprofits in December.

The participating organizations themselves are encouraged to come up with other ideas and challenge options to further drive viewer traffic, according to Diane Milliken Garza, executive director of the Brownsville Community Foundation, which launched Big Give Brownsville in May 2017, and a member of this year’s organizing committee.

“We look forward to educating, engaging and including everyone who views our social media campaign to get involved and give local, from Brownsville to Brownsville for Brownsville,” she said.

Big Give campaign Co-Chairman Joe Medrano said that although this year’s Big Give is being conducted differently, he hopes the community’s response “reflects that spirit of giving that is part of Brownsville.”

“We all continue adjusting to our individual needs, the needs of our families and neighbors, and we know that everyone is doing the best to get through this,” he said. “At the same time, there are always going to be those who need more of the direct service help that only these local nonprofits provide. That’s how the extra support from the Big Give Brownsville campaign will help these organizations, especially during COVID-19.”