517 Magazine Days of Giveaways


Initiative centralizes area’s nonprofit goals The Shiawassee Community Foundation and United Way of Genesee County are working to advance the goals of Shiawassee County nonprofi…

Initiative centralizes area’s nonprofit goals

The Shiawassee Community Foundation and United Way of Genesee County are working to advance the goals of Shiawassee County nonprofits by uniting them with fundraising, marketing and volunteer support. Named #raiseUPshiawassee, the idea is to have one place to come together to make all that happen.

The initiative was launched in 2017, and The Arc Mid-Michigan, Shiawassee Arts Center, Girls on the Run Mid-Michigan and Respite Volunteers of Shiawassee are among the nonprofit organizations that can benefit.

Here’s how it works: Shiawassee-area nonprofits can post projects and funding needs on a shared website where individuals can go to make monetary donations or sign up for volunteer work. The initiative helps local businesses, too, creating opportunities for their employees to get involved with volunteer activities, fundraising and other grassroots efforts. That, in turn, helps boost employee morale and engagement. Another benefit to companies is enhanced brand image. For comparison, Lansing-area residents can think in terms of Lansing Board of Water & Light’s involvement in Adopt a River, Silver Bells in the City and other local volunteer initiatives benefitting the community.

Giving Tuesday was the inspiration for #raiseUPshiawassee. Giving Tuesday occurs every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving with the intent to inspire charitable giving heading into the holidays. The launch of #raiseUPshiawassee was boosted by the momentum of Giving Tuesday, which puts charities front and center for generating millions of dollars annually.

“Giving Tuesday is an opportunity where everyone who has had even a modest amount of good fortune can give back or pay it forward,” said Tom Cook, head of the Cook Family Foundation and the person who launched #raiseUPshiawassee three years ago. “Perhaps less obviously, the collaboration of #raiseUPshiawassee also demonstrates that none of us alone is as good as all of us together.”

Justin Horvath, president and CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership said, “We are excited to support this structured program where companies give donations and volunteer time to local nonprofits. The initiative has many potential benefits to local firms.”

Those benefits, according to Horvath, include attracting and retaining top talent and improving client retention and customer loyalty. He added that Emily Marrah, relationship specialist with United Way of Genesee County, proved critical for leadership in moving the initiative forward.

Marrah said that #raiseUPshiawassee is about local nonprofits committing to work together, and that it’s not only about donations, but engagement with the community. She cited shiawasseeserves.org as the volunteer portal for listing and learning about volunteer opportunities, and she said the goal is that smart technology will engage with a new generation of givers and doers.

“We have a strong collection of locally based groups committed to missions that serve the residents of Shiawassee County, whether they be young or old; in crisis or seeking enrichment; or care about history, the environment or animals,” Cook said. “All of them are worthy of your support.”

Marrah summed up Cook’s statement and the overarching purpose behind #raiseUPshiawassee.

“When we live united, incredible work is accomplished,” she said.

To learn more, visit shiawasseeserves.org and unitedwaygenesee.org/raise-shiawassee.


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