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CIT Promoting Chamber Members to Give Back - Wednesday, 10 March 2010 11:21

CIT Promoting Chamber Members to Give Back 

Neighbor-to-Neighbor tries new fundraising ideas

New Haven Register: March 7, 2010

By Steve Higgins, Special to the Register

For the second annual Neighbor-to-Neighbor LifeLine fund-raising drive, organizers are doing some things differently, based on lessons learned during the first drive held last winter.

One example is a $50,000 challenge grant established by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven: If the drive’s Give/Get campaign recruits at least 20 volunteers who raise at least $10,000 each, Community Foundation will donate $50,000 to the drive. Last year, Community Foundation donated $25,000 with no stipulations attached.

The change was requested by Neighbor-to-Neighbor Chairman Andy Eder and Thomas J. Sansone, a member of the board of the United Way of Greater New Haven, which partners with the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven to conduct the emergency fund drive.

Neighbor-to-Neighbor LifeLine is an effort to raise $1 million by the end of April that will immediately go to area social service organizations that provide food, shelter and other services to the needy in Greater New Haven. Demand for food, shelter and emergency help with housing and other costs has risen again this year due to the economic crisis, area social service organizations report.

“The challenge grant is a great opportunity for Neighbor-to-Neighbor to really have a big carrot dangled in front of it,” said Sansone, chairman of the Give/Get portion of the campaign. Give/Get recruits community leaders who pledge to raise $10,000. The challenge grant as an incentive to attract new volunteers.

As of last week, there were 14 Give/Get volunteers, including Sansone, who said he is taking a different approach this year after raising about half of his $10,000 goal last year.

“Last year, I mostly wrote letters and followed up with phone calls, and I learned there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting,” he said. “You’re most effective either in small groups or in one-on-one interactions, so I’m going out and meeting people in person this year.”

Last year, Neighbor-to-Neighbor LifeLine raised $645,400 , which was distributed through 47 grants to area social service organizations. All money collected goes directly to agencies, as administrative costs are paid independently.

The drive funded 160,000 additional meals last year, allowed 352 families to stay in their homes and provided one-time emergency support to 290 families.

The Connecticut Food Bank said demand for donated food soared 16.6 percent in 2009. The program, which serves 650 food assistance sites statewide, distributed 18.7 million pounds of food, the most in its 28-year history.

William W. Ginsberg, president and CEO of Community Foundation, said grant applications to his agency rose 50 percent in 2009. “We’re anticipating that demand is going to stay very, very high this year,” he said. “The demand for services has gone up while state and corporate support have gone down.”

Ginsberg said the foundation was happy to provide the challenge grant. “They wanted to create a powerful incentive,” he said.

Another new initiative this year is called Chamber-to-Chamber, and was conceived by Stephen Glick, administrator of the Chamber Insurance Trust in Orange . The idea is to get all of the area chambers of commerce and their members involved. Glick already has signed up the chambers of Greater New Haven, Orange, West Haven, Branford and Hamden.

“There’s a great need to bring small businesses into this effort,” said Glick, who points out that most fundraising drives tend to focus on larger businesses. “Small businesses should come together to help the community.”

The first fundraiser through Chamber-to-Chamber is March 23 at Chip’s Family Restaurant, 321 Boston Post Road in Orange. Chip’s President George Chatzopoulos will donate 50 percent of the proceeds from all meals purchased after 3 p.m. that day to the campaign.

Neighbor-to-Neighbor LifeLine welcomes both corporate and individual donations, and organizers are encouraging people to come up with novel ways to raise funds. United Way workers will help individuals plan their drives, print notices and set up a Web page. For more information, go to www.n2nlifeline.org, or call United Way at 203-691-4213.

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