CFO's 3rd Annual GIVE OZARKS, Supports Non-Profit Partners Across Southern Missouri

May 4, 2017

Tuesday morning, May 9th at midnight, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, along with over 250 of its non profit partners across southern Missouri, will kick-off the 3rd annual GIVE OZARKS 24 hour on-line day of giving, www.giveozarks.org, and on today's Making a Difference; Stories of Hope and Help, 2 participants share their shared experience with GIVE OZARKS.  With us today is Mike Stevens, of Springfield Missouri's nonprofit Moxie Cinema, and Jarad Johnson, of Mostly Serious, which created Cause Momentum, the online giving platform which makes GIVE OZARKS, possible.  Stevens started the conversation by asking Jarad Johnson, how Mostly Serious got involved with the CFO and GIVE OZARKS.

KSMU Producer Mike Smith, records Jarad Johnson and Mike Stevens, for Making a Difference; Stories of Hope and Help
Credit Matt Lemmon / Community Foundation of the Ozarks

"One of the core values at Mostly Serious is community, and how we can be involved in community.  We try to give back as much as we can, and some of that is through organizations that we founded, and some from working with other organizations such as the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, so when CFO approached us with GIVE OZARKS, it was a great opportunity to get that level of involvement that reached beyond what we typically see from a lot of our clients.  The reason we continue to invest in the project, and are so passionate about it, is because its core to what we want to be within the community." 

Mike Stevens is impressed Cause Momentum was created locally and sees the online giving platform created by Mostly Serious as an efficient cost effective alternative to more established national and global giving platforms.  "It is just so responsive to our unique needs.  Jarad, when you were looking at other online giving platforms, what did you take away from them and what did you jettison?"

"CFO came to Mostly Serious in the first place because they were looking around at the national solutions, and a lot of them cost about the same as if we would build it ourselves, and so when they came to us it was largely in response to CFO saying "Well we can pay about the same amount, get a local company involved, and have this push be 100% in the Ozarks."  For the most part, most of the established online platforms wouldn't allow nonprofits to be involved.  Beyond that, they wouldn't allow a community foundation to run a lot of different agencies through one platform. Even the ones that would accept nonprofits would only do one nonprofit at a time.   So we wanted to build a solution that would allow this umbrella organization to bring in the agencies and run this community wide push forward, to let the agencies leverage their audience, their members, people who are passionate about their organizations to collectively advertise this community campaign." 

Stevens agrees this approach shapes GIVE OZARKS as a "True community wide event", and says the capability for the Moxie Cinema to receive online support through Cause Momentum, is "A tool that was missing from our fundraising as an organization, and it's where so many people are actually living.  You par credit cards online, and utilities online, and so people are giving online, and that was something we didn't have access to, in an easy way."

Johnson says his company knew going in to the project, the community was "Lagging just a little behind" with online giving.  "So we designed everything with that in mind.  We wanted to make it as easy as we could, for agencies and people who want to donate, to get involved with the project.  One of the ways we did that was to allow offline donations, both before and after the event, so people could bring a check to the CFO, and that check would be inserted into the online system, which was one of the features no other platform at the time offered.  Also, CFO's Matt Lemmon and Louise Knuaer did a phenomenal job communicating with with the agencies, and training them.  And we were involved on some level there, but those two really took the lead and made sure every agency understood not only how to use the system, but how to get involved, how to bring their people and their audience into this community push, and how to make it something more than we could've ever made it alone."

Stevens says The Moxie was "Pleasantly surprised" at how much money was raised during the 1st GIVE OZARKS, 2 years ago.  "We were shooting for $8-$9,000, and we raised over $20,000 in 24 hours, which was really eye opening that there was that much support for us.  But as exciting as that was, what was more exciting was how pumped up people were.  The 24 hour time constraint does wonders for the fundraising, but it also maximizes involvement and intensity in such a way that it really got people circulating  and talking, online and in person, in such a way I've never seen.  On GIVE OZARKS, it was exponentially different.  The day of, that was the only conversation I seemed to be having with people, and for weeks after, we were still talking about it.  That was cool to see!"

Mike Stevens and Jarad Johnson, in the KSMU Studio to Talk About GIVE OZARKS
Credit Matt Lemmon / Community Foundation of the Ozarks

Jarad Johnson shares Mike Stevens' excitement for GIVE OZARKS:  "The excitement of the day, being able to reflect on it, the text messages of who's giving and seeing when certain things hit, and seeing a bunch of money roll in, or seeing traffic spikes in the day as we're monitoring things, we're really looking forward to that excitement."  

Stevens expresses words of encouragement to Johnson, as the May 9th, GIVE OZARKS, 24 Hour online Day of Giving, swiftly approaches:  "This is the honest to God truth, I'm wishing you well, on GIVE OZARKS, because you have your work cut out for you." 

Johnson responds:  "Same to you.  Come bother me again at midnight Tuesday night as we are wrapping up, and we'll celebrate together."

GIVE OZARKS 24 Hour Online Day of Giving, kicks off Tuesday morning at midnight at www.giveozarks.org  Over $2.2 million was raised for CFO's nonprofits during the GIVE OZARKS events of 2015 and 2016.  For more information, www.cfozarks.org