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'Bmore Gives More' tries to raise $5 million on #GivingTuesday

By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun

7:05 PM EST, December 3, 2013

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Standing near a coal-fired stove in the kitchen of Joe Squared, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake tossed extra arugula on a slab of dough to create a "Bmore Gives More" pizza.

The restaurant was taking part in #GivingTuesday, a day designed to foster online and other charitable contributions after the holiday shopping of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Rawlings-Blake said she wanted to do her part to "make sure Baltimore is the most generous city in all of the country" when the day's donations are tallied.

" 'Giving Tuesday' is an opportunity to give back," the mayor said. "We say the holiday season is about giving, not receiving, and this is a way we can do it. There are so many people in need, so many great programs that need assistance."

The "Bmore Gives More" campaign was coordinated in part by GiveCorps, an online fundraising platform that works with 300 local nonprofits, including The Associated and the National Federation of the Blind, said Peter Jackson, the group's vice president. The goal was to raise $5 million Tuesday.

"Like a lot of organizations in Baltimore, we were inspired by this whole idea of rethinking what the start of the giving season was all about," he said.

Joe Squared is donating 20 percent of proceeds from each "Bmore Gives More" pizza sold not just Tuesday, but all during December. Money from it and other participating businesses will go to a fund that allows GiveCorps to match some donations made by individuals online. Nonprofits in Maryland and across the country also solicited donations through telephone banks, emails and Twitter campaigns.

The United Way of Central Maryland was a partner in #GivingTuesday, spokeswoman Lindsley Stys said. Each $25 donation to the charity provides a child at risk of becoming homeless with a gift from their wish list, a book and cold weather accessories, such as hats and gloves, she said.

Catholic Charities, another nonprofit participating in the "Bmore Gives More" campaign, has seen donor contributions improve since the recession, but the demand for services also has increased, according to William McCarthy, the group's director.

"While many of our donors and volunteers have emerged or are emerging from the economic hardships of the recession, those seeking our help and services have not," McCarthy said.

At the Open Society Institute in Baltimore, Jed Weeks, the major gifts associate, said it saw a decline in fundraising during the recession, but giving has rebounded.

The OSI needs to raise $200,000 in the next month to reach its nearly $3.3 million fundraising goal this year, Weeks said. This time last year, the organization was $400,000 short of its $3.1 million target, which it was able to exceed by January, he said.

For #GivingTuesday, Weeks said, the OSI focused on drawing attention to its community fellows and nonprofit partners that work together to solve the root causes of injustices in Baltimore.

"We've been here for 15 years," Weeks said, "and the difference we've seen in the city is just tremendous. We're incredibly optimistic about the future of the city."

ywenger@baltsun.com

twitter.com/yvonnewenger