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An Epic Day of Giving

Valley Vision joined over 500 of the region’s nonprofits to participate in the Big Day of Giving (BDOG)! BDOG is coordinated by the Sacramento Regional Community Foundation, and assisted nonprofits with raising over $7 million this year, and over $30 million since its inception. We started by snapping photos of our office dogs Kasha and Lily, pondered our best dog related puns, and fine-tuned our messaging. Standing out in a region full of exceptional nonprofits is no easy task, but I drew from my previous experience supporting Big Day of Giving communications. The excitement for BDOG inspired us to put our best communications foot forward to make sure Valley Vision stood out among our region’s impressive nonprofit ecosystem.

Although Valley Vision has previously participated in BDOG, this was the first time that we decided to dedicate all of the funds to a specific project. This year we raised funds to continue to the development of the EPIC Trail, an initiative to connect over 100 miles of biking and walking trails from the Sierra Foothills to Yolo County. The trail could also contribute to a larger regional trail, and link existing paths in the Bay Area and Northern San Joaquin County. Studies have shown that recreational trails increase tourism, boost community health, helps attract new businesses, and are desired by residents of our region. Valley Vision’s own 2017 Public Opinion Survey on Amenities found that a majority of Sacramento region residents view parks and trails as the single most important amenity to their quality of life.

To mobilize the staff around the fundraising campaign, I created a large wall tracker with locations along the proposed EPIC Trail. The day started with the tracker being located in Davis, and as more donations were received, we were able to move the bike along the trail to West Sacramento, Sacramento, and beyond. Every time the tracker was able to be moved was exciting because it was simultaneously representing us raising funds and also visually moving along the trail. With every donation, it became clearer that the region strongly believes in building a contiguous path for recreation. Throughout the day, we were sure to thank our donors on social media, and maintain a steady stream of content.

Assisting with the development and execution of the Communications plan, I learned more about the complexities, and importance of managing an effective fundraising campaign. Asking people to imagine themselves at specific locations on the trail, showing them the existing trails, and emphasizing the flexibility for trails to be used for exercise, recreation, and the arts added the human element of our efforts. My key takeaway is that a communications strategy to support fundraising is a year-round process that does not start when BDOG comes along, but increases and culminates on the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s annual Big Day of Giving.

Ultimately, Valley Vision was able to raise $1,477 from 17 donors! The generosity of our region brought joy to our staff, and gave the office a fun project to rally behind. Valley Vision is continuing to convene our over seventy stakeholders to ensure that the EPIC Trail comes to fruition. Thank you to those who gave – your generosity will prove transformative to the connectivity of our region!

Ruben Moody is Valley Vision’s Communications Intern.