GOOD WORKS SA: The Big Give is a way for millennials to make a big difference

By March 9, 2018 No Comments

written by Gabe Hernandez (SABJ)

Philanthropist Harvey Najim said that while it helps to have young people raised with philanthropic goals, it’s also critical to connect them to giving in a language they’re familiar with. He points to the Big Give as the perfect tool to reach this demographic.

Taking place on March 22, the Big Give is one way that San Antonio’s philanthropic community is targeting millennials’ spirit of giving, Najim said.

“It’s a 24-hour day of online donating to your favorite charities, with a goal of supporting the nonprofits in our region,” he said passionately. “Last year, we raised $4.8 million, and since 2014, 150,000 donors have given nearly $15 million dollars to over 2,000 nonprofits through the Big Give. This made it one of the most successful giving days in the country.”

Najim — founder of the Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation — is well-known for his generosity, with his family name gracing buildings and endeavors across the city. Najim’s charitable desires are obvious in conversation. His rapid-fire delivery of statistics about need — for example, that San Antonio is adding nearly 55,000 people a year, with 26 percent of them needing social services — match the intensity in his eyes when he says “it’s time for others to step up.”

And the Big Give is a way for everyone to do that on their own terms.

“The Big Give … uses technology to reach young people and offers them a way to make a difference … and maybe become consistent givers.”

Jeanie Wyatt, founder of South Texas Money Management, agrees with Najim. She advises clients on their investments and the importance of including philanthropy in their lives. A generous community supporter herself, Wyatt doesn’t believe in forcing young people to give, but rather to provide encouragement and opportunities for philanthropy. She cites her own life, being weaned on “giving back” because that’s what her parents did. And she saw how much joy it gave them.

Wyatt said that when you think of great philanthropy, the kinds of major gifts that universities and hospitals enjoy, it’s usually because the donor had a life-changing experience that opened his or her eyes. And such gifts represent a way them to make an impact.

“That kind of philanthropy is very personal, but that’s how giving should be,” she said. “It should be something that gives you joy. No matter how large or small the gift, knowing you made a difference is important.”

Equipping the younger demographic with the opportunity and comfort of giving through technology is why Najim has been one of the Big Give’s most avid supporters. This year, he was tapped to lead the marketing committee and enthusiastically shares their progress.

“We’re working with Give Gab, a proven online platform that helps nonprofits raise money, engage donors and manage volunteers quickly via technology,” he said. “And this year, we’ve contracted for over $300,000 in advertising on radio, TV and billboards to raise awareness and meet our goal of $7 million.”

Know for his competitive spirit, especially when it comes to fundraising, Najim smiles wide and points out the prizes that nonprofits can earn for meeting their fundraising goals.

“Last year, we distributed over $300,000 in prize money to agencies participating in the Big Give,” he said.

The online platform will also include a leaderboard showing the dollars raised in real time. He said giving is contagious and encourages the community to keep abreast of progress via their social media channels and to ask friends and family to join. The Big Give’s social media push is one of Najim’s favorite components. As an ‘”online pep rally,” he said the Big Give raises awareness for nonprofits and enables them to tell their stories and highlight their needs.

“Last year, 50 percent of donations made through the Big Give came from first-time givers,” he said. “There’s a place for everyone. … Not only will you have the chance to support causes you believe in, we also get to come together on this one day to promote all the good work we’re doing as a community.”

He paused for a moment before adding: “We can’t just tell people what a difference giving back makes; we have to show them.”