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Des Moines metro nonprofits making the most of Giving Tuesday

The annual drive is helping make up for revenue lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Capping off a busy few days for shoppers across the country, it's Giving Tuesday! The celebration of charity across the country started in New York in 2012. Now, it's offering some much-needed support to local nonprofits.

"Giving Tuesday is an important opportunity to raise awareness about our programming, in addition, to help respond to fill the gaps and resources that we have in programming that we provide," said Jane Jeffries, director of the Stowe Challenge Course for Community Youth Concepts. They provide coaching and development training to kids across Iowa.

After Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, there's one more day to cap off the shopping bonanza. Except these purchases aren't gifts for the family—they're gifts for the community.

"We have seen an increase in the number of donors that we receive. And then also because of the increase in awareness, it also helps us to recruit volunteers," said Karen Ligas, executive director of Everybody Wins! Iowa. That organization pairs kids with mentors who read with them once a week, helping develop their reading skills.

Local nonprofits aren't taking all that generosity for granted. COVID left many with much smaller budgets than they were used to.

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"It was a little bit of a struggle," said Stacey Kimberlin, director of consulting services for CultureALL, which helps teach Iowans about international cultures. "In 2019, we served 28,000-plus students in the schools in Central Iowa, and that really fell off. We did some virtual things we pivoted and we were able to provide opportunities that way, but not near as much."

As a result, this year's Giving Tuesday comes at an important time. Community Youth Concepts in Des Moines started construction on a challenge course for local kids before COVID hit—but the pandemic made it harder to pay all the bills for it.

"Right now, for Giving Tuesday we're raising the funds to complete that mission to finalize the course," Jeffries said.

All the money that's being raised makes a real difference for nonprofits, even if it's not always visible. Your donations are never going unnoticed.

"Nonprofits operate on such a low budget that the staff aren't just doing direct service, they're maintaining the building, they're taking out the trash," Jeffries said.

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