FARGO — Need a last-minute gift idea that will make an impact for local nonprofits but allow you to stay in your Christmas pajamas as you shop? Look no further than the FM Area Caring Catalog.
The crowdfunding website through the FM Area Foundation features 80 local nonprofits – including many arts organizations – seeking up to $5,000 for specific projects and programs. Launched in early November, the Caring Catalog gives people the ease of “shopping” online for organizations they want to support with a single transaction until Dec. 31.
As a community organization that has connected people and purpose for more than 60 years, the FM Area Foundation waives all credit card fees to ensure all donations go to the featured nonprofits. Lexi Oestreich, program officer at the foundation, says catalog is “not so much about the money” but about helping people realize “what all of these organizations are doing to make our community better.”
“The benefit of the platform is that everyone’s money is pooling together and going to make some really great things happen in our community,” Oestreich says. “Each donation matters, and collectively we can reach the goals of some of these nonprofits and kick-start them into 2019 with some additional funding for projects or programs they are trying to accomplish.”
The nonprofits are categorized by the foundation’s four areas of impact: arts, culture and creativity; basic needs; community building; and education. Those who are particularly passionate about supporting local art can donate to projects by several local organizations, including Cass County Historical Society, FMBallet, Fargo-Moorhead Choral Artists, The Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre, Fargo Moorhead Opera, Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, HeartSprings, Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC) and Plains Art Museum. Celebration of Women and Their Music, Creative Plains Foundation, Prairie Public Broadcasting and Red River Dance & Performing Company also included in the catalog in the education category.
All 80 projects in the catalog are specific so people know exactly what their donation is going toward, Oestreich says. The HCSCC, for example, is raising money for a special storage unit to preserve an important collection of paintings by Minnesota artists, while Fargo-Moorhead Choral Artists seeks funds for sheet music, rental space and marketing efforts for its winter concert. FMBallet, meanwhile, is raising money to employ professional musicians for its performance of “The Classic Nutcracker” next year.
Donors do not need to stick to a single category with their giving. Because most people have multiple causes they care about, the Caring Catalog allows them to support as many as they would like from the four areas of impact, Oestreich says.
“It's also a way for people to connect with fundholders through the foundation,” she adds. “We have a lot of fund advisers, families and donors who use our foundation as their philanthropic vehicle, and now we have a platform where we can direct (those people) to projects and programs in our community where their dollars could be put to work.”
Oestreich has been the nonprofit liaison at the foundation for almost five years and “has the fun job of giving the money away,” she says. She hopes the Caring Catalog will have even more featured nonprofits when it rolls out at the same time next year.
“We really do believe in our nonprofits and the boots-on-the-ground folks doing the hard work,” Oestreich says. “We are grateful to be their community foundation and have a tool to help leverage their needs.”
There is a $10 minimum for all online gifts. To view the FM Area Caring Catalog, visit www.areafoundation.org, or get a printed copy by stopping by the foundation's office at 409 Seventh St. S., Fargo.
This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.