Giving Tuesday in a COVID year presented a special opportunity to show appreciation for programs working hard in tough circumstances. As much of 2020 has been riddled with loss and economic turmoil, the funds received through Giving Tuesday came at an especially needed time for local nonprofits.

“It’s exciting. It’s relieving,” said Phil Carmody, president of Opportunity Knocks, a River Forest-based nonprofit that supports people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in building independence.

Like many organizations, Opportunity Knocks has been unable to conduct traditional in-person fundraising events this year due to COVID-19. The nonprofit canceled five of its major fundraising events. 

“We pride ourselves on being community based and having these events that not just focus on fundraising, but on bringing people to our mission,” said Carmody. “In these times, it was like completely foreign to us not to be able to do those things.”

Opportunity Knocks incorporates Giving Tuesday into its wider fundraising campaign, called the Annual Giving Fund, which extends from November until yearend. It’s relying on the campaign to offset the cancellation of its key events.

So far, the campaign has raised about $60,000 from over 200 donors. As part of a match agreement, Opportunity Knocks will also receive $12,500 from the Coleman Foundation. 

“We’re happy to see a lot of people give,” said Carmody. 

The money raised will allow Opportunity Knocks to continue delivering services to program participants, referred to as “warriors.” Services and programming include building life skills, community integration and vocational training.

New Moms saw success this Giving Tuesday as well, with 59 individuals making donations, exceeding the goal number of 58 by one. 

“It was a little bit of a stretch goal for us,” said Bonnie Andorka, New Moms donor relations manager. “So, we’re real happy about that.”

With offices in Oak Park and Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, New Moms provides housing assistance, job training and family support for young mothers of limited means. 

Of the 59 people who gave to New Moms, 20 of those individuals were first-time donors; two of 20 new donors signed up to make monthly donations. 

“That’s such a wonderful sign,” said Andorka. 

New Moms received a total of $6,483 on Giving Tuesday this year. Like Opportunity Knocks, New Moms incorporates Giving Tuesday into its end of the year fundraising appeal. This year’s goal is $120,000. New Moms has already achieved five percent of that goal from the funds received through Giving Tuesday alone.

“Our whole team has been overwhelmed with the support and the pure generosity of people,” said Andorka. “That’s been a really wonderful silver lining to all of the difficulties of this year.”

Another organization to benefit from the generosity of the season is Housing Forward, which raised $42,300 this Giving Tuesday, surpassing its goal of $25,000. Housing Forward received $20,000 as part of a match agreement from a local foundation that wished to remain anonymous.

 “We’re just really pleased with the outcome,” said Housing Forward Communications Director Erik Johnson.

The amount raised this Giving Tuesday is triple the amount raised last year, according to Johnson. 

Headquartered in Maywood, Housing Forward seeks to eradicate homelessness in west Cook County by transitioning individuals and families into stable housing. 

The money raised through Giving Tuesday will help Housing Forward operate its interim housing program. The money will also go toward the creation of new programs to help those experiencing homelessness.

“I think we all find it very heartwarming and reassuring that people are increasing their support to the community and recognizing the immense challenges some of our clients face,” said Johnson.

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