(This is a repost of an original Salt Lake Tribune article published on March 25, 2015 by Amy McDonald)
The online campaign Love Utah Give Utah hopes to raise $2 million for 500 charities Thursday — twice what it raised last year.
The way it works is simple: Utahns can visit loveutgiveut.org, explore options from animal shelters to breast-cancer research, find causes they like, contribute and then share their gifts on social media. The idea is to encourage others to donate for the 24-hour period as well.
“It’s a fun way to engage people in the community, including people who already support us as well as people who haven’t supported us before,” said Kai Wilson, director of And Justice for All, a legal-aid nonprofit seeking donations.
The effort — branded Love UT Give UT — also has a unique aspect: It’s a competition.
In four categories, based on budget size, organizations compete for prize money awarded to whoever gets the most unique donors. That means if a small nonprofit gets 400 donations of $10 but also gets the most unique donors in its category, its $4,000 becomes $14,000 with the $10,000 prize.
Squeezing the flow of donations, the interaction on social media and the competition all into 24 hours is what makes it fun, said Blair Hodson, director of the Community Foundation of Utah and Love Utah Give Utah.
“It’s an opportunity,” Hodson said, “for every single person in Utah that is positively affected by work done in the nonprofit sector and the education sector, in a very fun way, to participate in philanthropy.”
Last year, And Justice for All placed fourth overall in the event, which included about 460 other organizations.
More than half its donors were attorneys, he said.
“I was pretty happy that lawyers were somewhat able to keep up with puppies and Girl Scouts,” he said.
And Justice for All teams up with legal-aid organizations to provide lawyers and legal help to those who can’t afford it.
Kristine Ramsey had been in an abusive relationship for 25 years when a victim’s advocate connected her with And Justice for All. With the group’s help, Ramsey got a protective order against her ex-boyfriend, and they are setting her up with a pro bono attorney who will help her with a complicated lawsuit.
“It’s a blessing. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. That’s how I feel,” Ramsey said. “The most important part of getting a court order is that without one, you feel like you have to go back — back to the abuse. It was so helpful to talk to the people at And Justice for All. They made me feel comfortable and they made me feel like, you were worth it.”
And Justice for All raised about $20,000 from Love Utah Give Utah last year. That’s enough to provide 100 more protective orders like Ramsey’s, said development director Kseniya Kniazeva.
While services are free for qualifying patrons, Kniazeva said And Justice for All is able to provide protective orders and other legal services for a fraction of the cost. It costs them $200 to provide an average protective order — what some lawyers charge per hour, she said.
“A little bit of funding,” Kniazeva said, “can go a long way to supporting a better life for Utah’s most vulnerable.”
Read the original SLTrib article here.