Beatriz Maxson, Learning Independence For Tomorrow Inc. (LiFT)

Created in 2012, Giving Tuesday is an international day of giving held annually in November where organizations all over the world launch online fundraising campaigns encouraging donors to support their work. As a result of the pandemic and the unprecedented needs arising as a result of COVID-19, a new initiative #GivingTuesdayNow was held on May 5, 2020. While typically non-profits request Giving Tuesday funds to fulfill needs of the organization itself, Learning Independence For Tomorrow (LiFT) chose to have all 2020 #GivingTuesdayNow funds directly benefit LiFT families that day.

LiFT serves children and adults with neurodiversity (autism, Down syndrome, learning disabilities, processing disorders and others), empowering them to learn, thrive and succeed in a safe, bully-free environment so they may increase their capacity for independence. Our #GivingTuesdayNow goal was $52,000 to support our students whose parents had lost their jobs or been furloughed as a result of the pandemic, and could no longer afford out-of-pocket tuition subsidies after scholarship funds had been applied. The previous year, LiFT had raised $1,881 during Giving Tuesday and the average gift donation for all organizations participating world-wide was just over $100. It was an ambitious goal, one we weren’t sure we could achieve.

Based on the history, we knew probability of success was low, but our students’ families were hurting. We had to try. Working collaboratively with our LiFT families, teachers and board members, we launched a digital marketing campaign consisting of testimonials, pictures, and videos of what life at LiFT meant to so many. Nearly every hour, we used social media to share our students’ stories and update our supporters on our progress. Slowly, we saw the donations rolling in. In the end, we received nearly $59,000 in donations (an over 3000% increase from the previous Giving Tuesday); and not a single student was lost in our LiFT family due to financial hardship.

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