Extraordinary Give 2019

Colored lights fill the windows of the Griest building at the Extraordinary Give event in Lancaster City, Friday, Nov. 22, 2019.

THE ISSUE

The ninth annual Extraordinary Give — a marathon of online giving to local nonprofit organizations — will take place on Friday, Nov. 20, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. Over the past eight years, the event has raised more than $50 million for more than 500 organizations. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event will be a little different, and organizers are seeking ways to get people involved. “The folks at the ExtraGive are looking to the music community of Lancaster to submit videos of them performing their original music to air throughout ... the virtual event dubbed ExtraGive Cast,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Kevin Stairiker reported.

Everything is different in 2020.

But the nature of Extraordinary Give is such that this year’s event might not be all that unfamiliar.

As organizers note on the event’s website, “The good news is that ExtraGive has ALWAYS been an online event. There may be a little less in-person events happening, but you can still give EXTRA to all the causes you care about!”

Indeed, the spirit of generosity remains at the center of Extraordinary Give.

Tapping that spirit will be more vital than ever later this month, as the fundraiser has quickly become an important aspect of sustaining initiatives and enrichment opportunities in Lancaster County.

USA Today reported last month that donations to nonprofit organizations “are dropping as Americans give less due to pandemic-fueled job losses and fears of getting laid off.”

The challenge is hitting nonprofits across the nation. USA Today cited a survey by Charities Aid Foundation of America indicating that charities expected donations to decrease by at least 20% over a 12-month period. That could have a devastating, cascading effect of job losses at nonprofits, which would subsequently not be able to serve as many people — assuming they can even keep their doors open.

The pandemic and accompanying economic downturn have created a perfect storm, especially for those who were already among the most vulnerable in the community.

And thus it is in the toughest times that we must dig deepest and think about how much we can give, if we are among the fortunate who are in a position to do so.

Nonprofits here help residents deal with developmental disabilities, poverty, loneliness, mental health problems and educational deficits. They assist the jobless, the homeless, the hungry and those struggling with addiction.

Nonprofits based around the arts, culture and history enrich our lives in ways that become part of what we love about living here.

As we count down toward Extraordinary Give, these are two of the opportunities organizers are providing to get us involved and bring some needed cheer to this sorrowful year.

— The musicians Stairiker wrote about would, if accepted, be featured on ExtraGive Cast from 5 p.m. Nov. 20 up until midnight, the big final hours of the day of giving.

“Music has always been a huge part of the ExtraGive, and I think that is something that is hard to translate even to the best livestream event, so we wanted to get local musicians and artists to send us their stuff,” said Aaron Spangler, communications manager for the Lancaster County Community Foundation, which organizes the Extraordinary Give.

The best submission will be featured during the Extraordinary Give’s 9-10 p.m. hour and receive production assistance from the Rock Lititz company ChoiceLIVE.

Submissions are being accepted until Nov. 10. Musicians can submit videos to extragive.org/info/extragivecast.

— Meanwhile, in lieu of the traditional ExtraGive Fest at the Lancaster County Convention Center this year, LNP | LancasterOnline reported that “county residents are asked to submit photos and videos that will make up the bulk of what’s expected to be six hours of virtual programming on Nov. 20 that will celebrate the work of area community benefit organizations and the community spirit that funds those efforts.”

The videos can be up to 15 seconds long. Participants are encouraged to hold an #IGiveExtra sign — get creative — and explain in the video or photo caption their reasons for giving.

“We’re looking for as many faces and as many stories as possible,” Spangler said.

As with the musician videos, these can be uploaded at extragive.org/info/extragivecast. They should be submitted as soon as possible, so Extraordinary Give producers can include them.

These are wonderful initiatives. It might have been easy to lose track of Extraordinary Give, with the understandable worries over COVID-19 and so much daily focus on the presidential election.

But we cannot overlook the importance of Nov. 20 and what it means for sustaining so much that is good and necessary in Lancaster County.