Big River Makes Giving Tree Grow
Bellefaire JCB makes Holiday Wishes Come True for Over 1200 Children Using Giving Catalog
In 1868, the Jewish Community of Cleveland came together to form the Cleveland Jewish Orphan Asylum, a residence for 80 children from 15 states left parent-less by the Civil War. Today, that organization, now known as Bellefaire JCB is one of the nation’s largest child service agencies, providing nondenominational services to over 20 thousand youth, families and communities.
Through more than 25 programs, Bellefaire provides outpatient and school-based counseling, prevention and early intervention, homeless and missing youth services, adoption, foster care and residential treatment and more in schools, communities and on its campus in suburban Cleveland.
But despite its growth in services, mission and numbers helped, Bellefaire has always aimed to maintain a focus on the unique needs of each individual youth in their care.
That’s the reason that every year, Bellefaire has a Holiday Gift Drive. The children and staff create wish lists, and rather than combine them, or just ask for help fulfilling them, donors are encouraged to take a specific list, and incorporate that child’s list into their holiday shopping.
“It creates a greater connection” says Jill Sadowsky, Director of Jewish Community Services & Volunteers, “They get to learn a little more about the child and have a better idea of the scope of work we do.”
And while it is an effective and rewarding program, it was, at times, a burden to volunteers and administrators, especially with the numbers of children they serve and wanted to help, with more than 1000 individual lists most years.
“We actually had papers in a box, that each child filled out, different colors for different programs, and people had to come to Bellefaire choose a list, then go shopping and then return with the gift.” Says Ms. Sadowsky. “And how to keep track of all of those lists, and who took them and who forgot to turn them back in? It could be a mess!”
Then Bellefaire turned to Big River, and their Giving Catalog Platform. By making each child’s wish list a catalog “card” donors can browse, read a brief description, and virtually select the ones they want to shop for without having to come on campus. Additionally, their selection is automatically registered, meaning admins know who has selected which lists, and automatically pair incoming gifts with requests. You can see the site here.
According to Ms. Sadowsky, it’s made a world of difference. “The process now is night and day from what we were doing before. It’s easier for us, much easier for our donors, and best of all, it’s meant more completed lists and increased giving.”