Around the country, communities are coming together on #GivingTuesday. Our community leaders range from volunteer leaders to community foundations to large nonprofit organizations. What they have in common is a belief that bringing the community together around the spirit of collective generosity on #GivingTuesday has ripple effects far beyond the day. In this series, we’re sharing some of the highlights of #GivingTuesday community campaigns. 

#ValleyGIVESday

Temecula, CA        

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Q&A with Ashlee Collins, Founder of #ValleyGIVESday and Director of Development at Michelle’s Place

Q. What inspired you to become a #GivingTuesday community campaign leader?

A. I am the communications director for Michelle's Place. I have been doing #GivingTuesday campaigns for MP for the last two years. My previous work experience involved working on the #IdahoGives campaign in 2013. I loved the collaboration between nonprofits, so I brought the concept to my region two years ago and we are finally implementing this year. We have over 40 nonprofits participating, we created a website (thevalleygives.org), we have a text to give option, and I'm planning an event at our local mall where all nonprofits will have a booth to showcase their resources. The event will have live music, raffles, and food.

Q. Tell us about your campaign. What's your goal? How are you building awareness and excitement?

A. Initially, when I only thought we’d only have 25 nonprofits signed up for #ValleyGIVES, I had a goal of $100,000 raised between all organizations. Now there are over 40 organizations, so I have increased my overall goal to $200,000. That is only $5,000 per organization. I began in June of this year inviting local nonprofits to planning meetings about the #ValleyGIVES concept. They all were very excited from the beginning and wanted to join. Many of the smaller nonprofits in this area do not have a designated communications person, such as myself, so I am trying to make this campaign as simple for them as possible. We have had several planning meetings so far, the Mayor of Temecula got involved and offered a meeting room at the City. She will also be at the start of the #ValleyGIVES event to welcome everyone. Our local news reporter from the Valley News has attended every meeting and has been running stories about the giving day and the event. I got the local radio station involved, 101.3 The Mix, who has been running 30-second PSAs all month and will be at the event with a radio personality. I have a local band coming as well. Our local mall, the Promenade Temecula, has helped by donating their courtyard space and has asked the inside food court to donate food for the event. We will be selling food voucher tickets at the event. We got a game truck to come so children can play games while their parents are supporting the organizations. I have sent all nonprofits branded graphic images to use in their online campaigns, and they are all on thevalleygives.org website. We are all sharing the same URL and the same text phrase so every campaign is consistent to the public. We will have volunteers at the event to help out as well. All nonprofits are promoting the day and the event to their supporters. It's looking like it will be a great success!

Q. What makes you most proud?

A. We are so proud of the community support we have received so far. It took two years, but now to see it come to life is amazing! I have received everything for free so far from local vendors, and everyone is excited to get involved. The nonprofits are all extremely enthusiastic about having a giving day opportunity that is so detailed and fun! It’s especially gratifying to see small nonprofits feel like they can participate because of the support we have provided.

Q. It’s a lot of work to be a leader. What keeps you going as a volunteer?

A. We are located in the Southwest Riverside County region of California. Riverside County is quite large and our area has never benefited from the local giving day: Give Big Riverside. When I presented the #ValleyGIVES idea to our local nonprofits, I received so many letters of thanks for creating a concept that they can see succeeding for them. There are some amazing nonprofits in our area, and the community unfortunately does not get an opportunity to see all that is offered by them. This event gives our nonprofits a chance to stand out and showcase all their resources and become top-of-mind to those in our community. I’ve loved playing a role in bringing the whole community together.