Donors raised more than $5.5 million as a part of Erie Gives, a charity event for area nonprofits, on Tuesday. Seeing the success of Erie Gives, Crawford County will soon get in on the action.

Started by the Crawford Heritage Community Foundation, Crawford Gives Day plans, in much the same way to Erie's donate-a-thon, to have an all-day event to raise funds for nonprofits throughout Crawford County. The first Crawford Gives Day will take place for 24 hours on Oct. 2.

Christian Maher, executive director of the Crawford Heritage Community Foundation, said Crawford Gives provides a platform for local nonprofits to share their stories, build their donor base and interact with the community in new ways and perhaps digitally for the first time.

"I think it’s the kind of thing that we just can’t not do," Maher said. "It’s going to bring a lot more money to the area and hopefully remind people that there are good programs that need some support."

The event, driven primarily by digital donating, follows a growing trend of online support for philanthropic efforts. According to the M+R Benchmark Study published by Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates charities, online giving grew by 23 percent in 2017 after growing 15 percent the year before.

Presenting sponsor Acutec Precision Aerospace and an anonymous donor will add prorated amounts to each gift given by credit card. The match pool currently stands at $30,000, and gifts received through Crawford Gives are tax deductible under state and federal laws. Donors can select multiple nonprofits to give to within the same transaction and also allocate different amounts to each nonprofit selected.

Maher also explained that the community foundation will serve as a pass-through for the fundraiser, holding on to "very little" of the overall money collected. Currently, crawfordgives.org lists 16 different nonprofits that have already joined the event.

For those interested in donating, crawfordgives.org will let visitors select the organizations they'd like to contribute to, enter their credit card information and submit their donation. Gifts of cash and other assets can also be made on Crawford Gives Day, but they will not be matched. Checks can be mailed to the Crawford Heritage Community Foundation, P.O. Box 933, Meadville, PA 16335 or dropped off at 415 Chestnut St. in Meadville.

Nick Ozorak, digital media specialist at Acutec involved with community outreach, said he was hopeful the investment Acutec made would lead to long-term success for the new event and bring awareness to organizations doing work for the community, often behind the scenes.

"When (the foundation) approached us about this idea, and we had a chance to review it, we thought it was a really fantastic opportunity to be able to further support these nonprofits that exist in Crawford County," Ozorak said.

Ozorak emphasized Acutec's continued backing of the community foundation and acknowledged they came to the aerospace technology company with the idea for a prorated match of each credit card donation. He also said Crawford Gives helps others learn of the quality of life local nonprofits provide in terms of health, welfare, education and entertainment.

"Acutec exists based on the strength of our employees," Ozorak said. "These (nonprofits) all support our citizens and our community, and our community supports our employees, and our employees make what we do possible."

Tyler Dague can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at tdague@meadvilletribune.com.

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