Building Philanthropy for a Better Florida

Animal Welfare League Fundraiser Keeps Up With The Big Dogs

May 17, 2020

By LIZ HARDAWAY Staff Writer

Anybody could be a philanthropist, even during a pandemic. 

And the Giving Challenge, an annual fundraiser that took place April 28-29, allowed 58,947 anybodies to show their philanthropic side with a minimum donation of $25 to their favorite nonprofits in Charlotte, Sarasota, DeSoto and Manatee counties.

This year, the challenge raised over $18.4 million, approximately $11 million from the donors, and the remainder was matched by the Patterson Foundation. 

The Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County was the 10th top fundraiser, with donors giving $120,138 and the Patterson Foundation giving almost $53,740, bringing the total donation amount to $173,878.

"We kicked butt," said shelter director Karen Slomba. "We're the little shelter that could."  

A majority of the funds are going toward the shelter's medical fund "so we can help animals who are in need," Slomba said, while some will go toward operating costs. 

The shelter typically gets a big chunk of its revenue from adoptions, fundraising events and donations.

"Like everyone else, we've been shut down," Slomba said, with the shelter having people come by appointment only. "We were not going to be able to pay for our operating costs this year, but this will allow us to do that and not limit the services we have available to the animals." 

The Giving Challenge allowed donors to give a minimum of $25, while knowing the charity they chose got $50 with the matching provided by the Patterson Foundation.

"Anybody can be a philanthropist," Slomba said. 

And the reason her shelter was so successful this year was because it had two additional private donors matching up to $40,000. "So, our donors were getting a quadruple match," Slomba said. 

The organizations who raised the most money out of the four counties were All Faiths Food Bank, who raised $621,936; Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee with $295,220; and UnidosNow with $272,170. 

The Peace River Wildlife Center also participated, coming in at #72 with $60,723, along with other local organizations such as the Visual Arts Center, which raised $54,090; the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition with $48,993; the Boys & Girls Club of Charlotte County with $44,905; and the Virginia B. Andres Volunteer Community Clinic with $28,150. 

The nonprofits will receive their funds via check from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County by July 1. 

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