A Challenge to Rise

A Challenge to Rise

By Dan Baldwin and Steve John

Oh, how times have changed.

A year ago, when we launched Monterey County Gives!, a global pandemic would have been a lame attempt at a campfire story. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were busy going about their lives. Seventy-seven homes, which have since burned down, still housed families in Cachagua, Big Sur and Salinas Valley. Thousands of people in Monterey County had jobs who don’t today. Small businesses, hotels, restaurants and attractions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium were thriving.

Uncertainty is now the pervasive sentiment: the presidential election and its aftermath, whether winter will bring on a potential spike in the coronavirus, what will happen to the economy.

Thankfully, we have Monterey County Gives!

If there is something certain, something positive, something impactful, and certainly something that will bring sunshine (not the orange kind we had during peak wildfire season!), it is the act of giving.

MCGives! Providing Sunshine On Giving

Monterey County Gives! has grown from a modest campaign in 2009 to generating more than $5.4 million in each of the past two years. The 2019 campaign had just short of 5,000 donors. That’s a lot of sunshine.

MCGives! 2020 will occur in a context we couldn’t have predicted—social distancing, mask wearing, and hand sanitizer are now part of our normal routine. Many organizations have had to slash their budgets during this time of economic slowdown.

The work of our nonprofit community may be more important than ever, because the needs of our community are so great. Yet delivering nonprofit services has also been made more difficult by the times. There has never been a more critical time to offer support.

Big Ideas for Monterey County

Typically Monterey County Gives! asks participating nonprofits to describe a Big Idea, something that will excite donors and draw them toward their work. Some of our nonprofits have continued this tradition, but for 2020 we want the nonprofits themselves—their mission, impact and passion—to be their Big Idea.

They are addressing chronic challenges like food insecurity and homelessness, bolstering public health and protecting health care workers, providing youth programs, protecting the environment,  delivering mental health services.

This year, we didn’t ask for a subset of ideas to validate or make this essential work appear more urgent, because it didn’t seem necessary. It speaks for itself.

As we move into MCGives! season (yes, it is an official season in Monterey County), and you’re seeking a sense of normalcy in this bizarre year of 2020, remember that our nonprofit community, working in all areas of civic life, has been the ballast that kept our ship steady in both calm and choppy seas.”

We may not always notice it, because they’re simply always here. This year in particular we need to sit up and take notice, and make sure our nonprofits have the resources they need to keep their ship, and ours, afloat.

So think hard. Dig deep. Support the work that supports you and your neighbors. Our journey will be much safer and filled with sunshine.

Dan Baldwin is President/CEO of the Community Foundation for Monterey County and Steve John is the President/CEO of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation
This article first appeared in the Monterey County Weekly Nov. 12, 2020 as part of their special Monterey County Gives! section. Republished with permission.