Jenise and Kevin Henrikson with their daughter at Deer Hollow Farm
Thanks to a little digital elbow grease – and SVCF’s online giving day, Silicon Valley Gives – one couple last May helped the beloved nature-education nonprofit Friends of Deer Hollow Farm raise as much money in a day as they’d normally receive over several months.
About a year after creating a donor advised fund at SVCF, Jenise and Kevin Henrikson decided to try leveraging the region-wide Silicon Valley Gives event to support a place that is near and dear to their hearts, Deer Hollow Farm at the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.
“It is a local historical resource, promoting environmental education and teaching children the important, hands-on lessons that food doesn’t come from packages at Safeway – it comes from real live animals,” said Jenise, who heads a digital media company.
Nestled in the hills above Cupertino and Los Altos and staffed largely with volunteers, the group is very grass roots, with no endowment to help fund operations. As board members, the Henriksons saw firsthand how the organization had to scrape for every dollar -- typically using very low-tech means including costly snail mail newsletters sent to a list of about 300 supporters.
So they were excited when fellow board member David Fung asked the board to consider participating in Silicon Valley Gives. Kevin and Jenise realized there was a tremendous opportunity to grow the group’s fundraising efforts via the Web and social media, channels that their peers were accustomed to, and they personally put up a matching grant of $10,000.
Fellow board members were also excited but had concerns – what if they didn’t receive enough attention to make it worthwhile? What if not enough donations came in to cover the match?
Jenise and Kevin posted news about SVGives on their personal Facebook pages, alerting their friends and acquaintances of their effort. They got other board members to do the same – including one who posted irresistible goat videos to draw attention to the fundraising event.
The big day did not disappoint, the couple says. All day they were glued to their rankings – provided at SVGives.org – and were thrilled to see Deer Hollow Farm break into the top 10 among smaller nonprofits. “It really opened the eyes of the community members and board members to see that reaching outside and using third-party resources like Silicon Valley Gives can really work out for the organization,” said Jenise.
It was also personally gratifying to share their passion with their friends in a new way, added Kevin. “It helped that Silicon Valley Gives is a high-profile, regional event that was broader than the single organization we were supporting,” which gave new donors additional levels of comfort, he said. Kevin’s employer, Microsoft, lead sponsor of SVGives, also chipped in with a matching grant to Deer Hollow Farm.
The effort paid off, raising $25,000 from about 100 donors in one day, including the Henrikson’s $10,000 donation. A normal fundraising total for the entire month of May is about one-tenth of that, the couple said. And Deer Hollow Farm’s prospective donor list has now expanded to almost 1,000 contacts.
“SVGives was a great way to introduce Deer Hollow Farm to the very desirable ‘young family’ demographic, for which the Farm offers so much, yet we were not reaching them effectively on our own,” said Kevin.
Hundreds of small nonprofits have similarly benefited from Silicon Valley Gives, which will hold its third annual event on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Silicon Valley Community Foundation provides training and information sessions for interested nonprofit organizations, as well as “toolkits” that help participants publicize their efforts. Since 2014, SVGives has raised nearly $16 million for such worthy causes.
Learn more about how to get involved in Silicon Valley Gives. Current SVCF donors who wish to create matching gifts or prizes for favorite nonprofit groups should contact their Philanthropy Advisors.