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The Big Give: Improving Columbus Through Amplified Giving

Walker Evans Walker Evans The Big Give: Improving Columbus Through Amplified Giving
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You may know Mike Brown from his work at Experience Columbus, helping to develop Columbus as a national visitor destination. You may know Mike Brown from his work on the Independents’ Day festival, which he has helped grow into a pride point for the creative community. You may even know Mike Brown from his preview work for Mayor Coleman as the city’s one and only Urban Ventures Coordinator, where helped connect various entities and programs to collaborate on the betterment of the central city.

If there’s one distinct through-line to be found with Mike Brown’s involvement in Columbus, it’s that community building and community support are of the utmost importance. He also carries that over into his support of The Big Give campaign, which helps residents connect with nonprofits in one big 24-hour online donation session.

“It’s a remarkable thing how in just a few years everyone has caught on so quickly to this idea,” he said. “When you start hearing about it from 10 or 12 of your friends that The Big Give is going on, that’s when you know it’s a big deal. When you can get people to talk about your mission, they become your best ambassadors.”

The Big Give first was launched by The Columbus Foundation in 2011, held again in 2013, and it returns for 2015 at 10am on Tuesday, May 12th, running through 10am on Wednesday, May 13th. The campaign allows locals to make small donations online to area nonprofits, and the donations are amplified by an additional funding pool of $1.3 million. The initiative raised over $19 million for local charities in its first two years combined.

“I’ve been mostly involved with The Big Give as a resident and a donor who uses that moment to give back,” said Brown. “I’m a middle class guy, so like to know that I’m able to use that leverage to make a bigger contribution.”

Brown said that the thing that sets the Columbus Foundation’s campaign apart from other charitable events is their PowerPhilanthropy portal, which puts a lot of information at the fingertips of donors.

“If you’ve scanned through the portal, then you’ve seen all the research that is provided there on all of these local nonprofits,” he explained. “You can look at their records, their annual reports, and there’s so much rich information on what they do, how they use their money, and how healthy a nonprofit is.”

When it comes to personal time investment, Brown currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Jazz Arts Group, and has assisted with marketing efforts at both the Columbus Museum of Art and United Way of Central Ohio.

“All the nonprofit groups and civic leaders that I work with, they’re all very interested in how they can reach young members as donors or ticket buyers,” said Brown. “A lot of groups are struggling to get that audience on board. The Big Give has a strong interactive social media component and gets a lot of Millennial and Young Professional attention, so it will be interesting to see how the program grows for next generation to take ownership of and make better.”

Or, to put it in other terms, Brown adds that “The Big Give is like election day, and people get to vote for the things they love the most.”

All Central Ohioans are invited to support their favorite charities and causes during The Big Give. Online donations to over 630 local nonprofit organizations can be made between 10am on Tuesday May 12th and 10am on Tuesday May 13th. All individual contributions will be amplified by a $1.3 million bonus pool assigned on a pro rata basis.

For more information, visit www.columbusfoundation.org.

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