The United Way of Northeast Georgia formerly used a big extravaganza to make public appeals for donations to help Athens-area agencies in their missions.
On Thursday, the extravaganza gets replaced with a celebration of those agencies and you are invited.
“Our region, specifically, has donor fatigue,” said United Way of Northeast Georgia President and CEO Matthew Purkey. “Everyone is constantly being asked to give to something. Instead of having another night of asking, we wanted to bring the community together to celebrate the good work going on here.”
Thus was born the United is the Way Community Celebration, which takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at The Graduate-Athens on East Dougherty Street.
The free event features free food, a cash bar, a live DJ, food trucks and guest speakers.
In addition, nearly 50 Athens-area nonprofits plan to set up booths to highlight the work they do in the community and to speak with anyone interested on how he or she might help.
“We’re going to ask people to find an organization they believe in, where their passions align, and get involved,” Purkey said.
The seed for the celebration started to germinate about three months ago, following a poll Purkey said United Way conducted asking nonprofits how it can help them in their missions beyond financial assistance.
“They wanted exposure,” he said. “They needed more avenues to tell their stories.”
While helping local agencies gain more exposure, moving away from a campaign kickoff to a celebration also moves the United Way of Northeast Georgia toward a new fundraising philosophy.
“Campaign kickoffs of the past gave a stated monetary goal to achieve,” Purkey said. “Our success no longer is measured by how much money we raise, but by how big an impact we have in our community.”
Purkey also hopes nonprofits at the Community Celebration might benefit by networking with each other.
“One agency might need transportation and another has a surplus fleet to lend a hand,” he offered as an example. “There will be relationships formed (on Thursday) that will benefit our community as a whole.”
A more immediate benefit takes place at the celebration with the raffling of a painting by artist Jamie Calkin, who plans to create the work during the event. Proceeds raised from the raffle will benefit those affected by Hurricane Harvey and potentially affected by Hurricane Irma.
For more information about the United Way of Northeast Georgia and the Community Celebration, visit their website at www.unitedwaynega.org/.