An Unprecedented Give STL Day

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With unemployment surging and an economy flailing for some measure of stability amid COVID-19, supporters of the Starkloff Disability Institute delivered record-setting results on Give STL Day.

St. Louis’s annual day of giving fell on May 7, a day when 114 generous donors came together to help SDI raise nearly $31,000, easily surpassing the organization’s initial goal of $10,000 and eclipsing the totals from previous years. Even more impressive, 40 of SDI’s contributors were completely new to the organization.

Director of Development Scott Thompson is immensely grateful, but not surprised by the community’s overwhelming generosity.

“I’ve found that, in these particular situations, if people have the capacity to give and they’re not in dire straits themselves – sometimes even if they are – difficult circumstances can make them even more apt to contribute,” Scott says. “These situations pull people together organically because they want to help their fellows. They see the medical hardships and the political dissension; they see the impact of unemployment and the suffering that goes along with that, and if they can, they’re reaching into their pockets to help out.”

Final numbers from the St. Louis Community Foundation seem to back up this notion as well. Total contributions from across the entire city-wide campaign exceeded $4.5 million, obliterating the previous mark of $3 million established one year ago.

According to Scott, a new emphasis on peer-to-peer campaigns added a jolt of vitality to SDI’s Give STL Day 2020 effort.

“We had five peer-to-peer campaigns set up, and together with matching gifts they brought in a significant amount – somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 of the overall total,” Scott explains. “It was really the first year where we had a structured peer-to-peer model for people to go in and set up their own mini-campaigns, and that was a big part of our success.”

Lori Becker, SDI’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Communications, established her own peer-to-peer campaign, Disabled Ass-Kickers United. It raised an astounding $5,300, ranking it 13th out of 534 individual campaigns.

Lori thanked the donors as their contributions rolled in.

“I am truly overwhelmed by your generosity and support of our work at Starkloff Disability Institute,” Lori gratefully declares. “Your investment in our mission will come back to you in a richer, more accessible community that is welcoming to all.”

The success of Disabled Ass-Kickers United is reflective of the organization’s prosperity overall. Among more than 1,000 nonprofits that participated in Give STL Day 2020, SDI finished 40th in terms of revenue with a total of $19,214, a figure that only takes into consideration the donations that were made through the official Give STL Day portal.

SDI’s entire team sprang into action in the days leading up to Give STL Day, working tirelessly to spread the word about Starkloff and its mission. Founder Colleen Starkloff and DREAM BIG Camp Coordinator Danielle Giuffrida joined a representative from the St. Louis Community Foundation for an interview on Facebook Live. Communications Coordinator Dallas Adams, Development Associate Maggie Mahoney and other SDI staffers developed videos and social media content to keep the conversation going.

Scott is amazed by the can-do spirit that pervades the SDI environment, particularly at crucial times like this. “I know what good design looks like, but I couldn’t design anything to save my life. I know what good writing is, but I’m not the best writer,” he acknowledges. “When I need a communication sent out, I’ll tell Maggie or Dallas about it and an hour later I have this wonderfully formatted document that’s ready to go, and it’s exactly what I envisioned, but it would’ve taken me days to get it cranked out.”

As Scott can attest, even with the unprecedented results of Give STL Day, there’s not much time to bask in the afterglow. Effective nonprofit development is a wheel that never stops turning.

“SDI now has a robust development team with a full-time director to run operations like GiveSTLDay. You can see it makes all the difference,” Lori says. “I am extremely proud of their exceptional work and dedication to our mission.”

“We’re so grateful for our supporters, and we’ve tried to express our sincere thanks to everyone, perhaps even to excess,” Scott remarks. “We’ve tried to give them a break from the solicitations over the last couple of weeks, but we’re gearing back up pretty soon with some targeted campaigns for DREAM BIG and some additional outreach to our major donors.”

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