Inspiring a Community of Givers

Inspiring a Community of Givers

By Hilary Zunin

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If only it were as simple as waving a wand. You happen on an exceptional idea. It’s creative, time-tested, and has been immensely successful in another community. If only it could flower here at home. Presto! There’s an Opera House reclaimed, or a winding river path, or a brand new boat dock being installed downtown.

Here’s the idea: Imagine the Napa Valley being known not only for its beauty, wine and food, but for the generosity of its people. And imagine that there’s a simple way to draw attention to the exceptional work of 40 local nonprofits and cultivate a culture of year-end giving for us all. Sounds like magic.

Ah, but ideas that seem magical aren’t always so simple. For a community to be not only sustainable but to thrive requires the concerted effort of individuals, families, private and public organizations. It takes energy, focus, partnerships, activities that raise awareness and sometimes change behaviors. It takes a deep commitment. Most of all, it requires recognizing what we CanDo when we work together.

The Napa Valley Give!Guide campaign, launching  November 1 and running through midnight on December 31, represents the flowering of that kind of concerted effort. It’s a project of Napa Valley CanDo, the grassroots community service organization that helps Guide volunteers to the aid on nonprofits, brought you the Soles4Souls shoe drive, and is helping create a movement throughout the valley that recognizes the benefits of relying less on single-use plastic bags.

This newest CanDo project is modeled after a remarkable Oregon venture produced by Willamette Week magazine. Certainly the Portland community is far larger than the Napa Valley, but the success of the Give!Guide there is staggering. In year one, they raised a modest but much appreciated $24,000 for 20 nonprofits in just two months. In year nine, their efforts garnered $1,967,000 for 110 nonprofits!

The Napa Valley Give!Guide introduces a novel approach to year-end giving. For two months we will seek cash donations starting at just $10 on behalf of 40 small, medium and large nonprofit organizations serving Napa County. The nonprofits are divided into seven categories: animals, arts, community, education, environment, health and wellness, and youth and seniors.

This campaign is designed to appeal particularly to young and first time givers, but its audience includes all those who may not yet see themselves as being in a position to give. Maybe you’re not able to attend most fundraisers, let alone participate in the fabulous Napa Valley Wine Auction. Ah, but you have $10 dollars, maybe more, and your $10 combined with the contributions of hundreds or thousands of other caring valley residents, can have a powerful impact on the many organizations that serve our communities.

The Give!Guide will be distributed as a pullout catalog in the November issue of Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine, our 2013 publishing partner. Extra copies will be available for project-based learning so that school-aged kids and scouts and 4-H members might look to see where they’d like to give.

With this Guide and the matching website, which will be available in both English and Spanish (, you’ll have everything needed to make a contribution that will directly benefit our community. Give to one or more local nonprofits with a single, tax-deductible transaction. A real time ticker will keep track of donations so we can see our progress day-by-day.

Now nothing happens in a vacuum. This Give!Guide project is as much about community building as it is about fundraising. We couldn’t have forged ahead without our mentor, Richard Meeker, creator and publisher of the Willamette Week Give!Guide; and our volunteers, including several dynamic Leadership Napa Valley graduates (Class 26).

Kudos to the Napa Valley Coalition of Nonprofit Agencies, our fiscal sponsor, and the Napa Valley Vintners who have funded the CanDo Spirit Award, a $1000 grant to recognize the passion and commitment of one, young nonprofit employee. Thanks, also, to Thrive Napa Valley for helping us foster and celebrate a thriving community, and to all the gracious sponsors you’ll see as you thumb through the Guide. And we simply couldn’t have completed the project without the generous financial support of the Gasser Foundation.

When we reach out to others, we often first reach in to the very best in ourselves. There, if we’re honest, we find that good intentions alone are not enough. They need to be coupled with positive action. Taking action to enrich the lives of those in our community is what CanDo and so many other service organizations in the valley are about. It was William James, the American philosopher, who said, “Act as if what you do makes a difference.” CanDo says, “It does.”

With the Napa Valley Give!Guide, you make a choice. You make a difference. We make it easy. Join in this exciting new venture November 1 – December 31, 2013. •

Cover Give Guide 2013HR



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