LAKE PLACID - Giving to a local charity is just a few clicks away, thanks to a relatively new website spearheaded by the Adirondack Foundation, formerly known as the Adirondack Community Trust.
If you haven't heard of it yet, it's called Adirondack Gives, and it's a local crowd-funding website inspired by the success of Kickstarter. Adirondackgives.org has been fully operational since January and during that time has raised $19,633 for causes within the Adirondack Park. Of those causes, 27 have achieved their fundraising goals.
Cali Brooks, executive director of the Adirondack Foundation, calls the website a "one-stop shop" for local-oriented donors and causes.
Here is a photo from the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society of a parade on Main Street in front of the Palace Theatre. It is part of the historic glass plate negative collection. The historical society is currently seeking funds online at adirondackgives.org to help preserve the glass plate negatives. (Photo provided)
"Groups, local governments, schools would contact us saying we need to raise money, and they only needed a small chunk of change to do very cool things," Brooks said. "We started thinking about that."
And then the light bulb went off.
"I saw crowd-funding and believed it would work beautifully here," she said. "Even though we are in rural America, we feel ahead of the times."
To sign up, a group has to be a recognized 501(c)3 charitable organization, local government or school. There are also ways to be sponsored by a recognized group to have your campaign considered by the foundation.
"We will work with them," Brooks said. "Some do it by on their own, and others need help."
Chris Morris, communication director at the Adirondack Foundation, helps groups set up their campaigns and reviews them before people can access them on the website.
"We vet the project to make sure there is a community benefit," Morris said. "It has been very inspiring and exciting to see organizations come in and use these sites."
Morris said when the website started, he assumed younger people would be a majority of the users.
"But I've been really excited and surprised to see people from all across the age brackets using this," he said.
For a group's first attempt on the website, a $1,000 limit is imposed. If the first campaign is successful, a second campaign limit is $2,500, and after that there is no limit. Brooks said the reasoning behind this was to help ensure groups are successful in their fundraising goals. Smaller projects within the $100 to $1,000 range have had greater success.
Creating a campaign
Whether it's raising money for a community project like a skatepark in Saranac Lake or a few hundred bucks for a class field trip, the Adirondack Gives motto of motivation for fundraising is "Think big, start small."
Morris said the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society has raised the most money through the website so far. The group is attempting to raise $5,000 for a match grant in order to preserve historical slides.
The historical society owns a 10,000-piece glass plate negative collection, depicting early life in Lake Placid, but didn't have the money to preserve them.
"I thought that would be a harder project to raise money for," Morris said. "They first went to raise $1,000; then they raised the bar up to $2,500 and just this week achieved that goal."
Through Adirondack Gives, the group has raised $2,775 total, since March 11, with 33 backers donating to the project, as of press time. The deadline is April 21.
Jennifer Tufano, director of the historical society, said the group's success with Adirondack Gives has been worth the effort.
"It's amazing," Tufano said. "It gave people a different avenue to contribute. ... This really appealed to people we weren't able to reach. Some of the people who donated to us never donated before."
The historical society - online at lakeplacidhistory.com - is now more than halfway to preserving the photos. Tufano said they're working on some other fundraising ideas to raise the final amount.
Tufano said social media got the word out.
"We found the way to make a campaign very successful is both have to really do their job to promote," Tufano said.
Adirondack Foundation promoted the campaign through press releases, media and Facebook, Tufano said.
Brooks said the group's effort went viral across the Internet.
"There were people from all over the state (donating to it)," she said.
Keene Central School's marine biology class is hoping to go to Forfar Field Station on Andros Island in the Bahamas next year. They've raised $678 out of their $800 goal to help fund the trip. The class has been raising money all year, and 50 percent of the trip will be self-funded by the student's parents.
"Each day at the field station, students will travel throughout Andros studying the science, culture, and history of the island," the group wrote in their online campaign. "During site visits to blue holes, coral reefs, tidal pools, and cays, students will explore the ecosystems they studied during the course."
"We love that schools are getting into this for projects and kid projects," Brooks said.
Brooks also offered a few tips to be successful, if considering starting a campaign.
"Proposing a project with a tangible goal has seemed to work." she said.
Starting small has also seemed to help groups with their donation efforts, as has promoting the campaign effectively through other social media channels to broaden the attention of the project.
Brooks said the website has filled a need for local charitable groups, making the process to crowd fund much easier.
"There's a lot of pressure for nonprofits to get into crowd-funding," she said. "One of the things I've heard is they are thankful we are creating a platform for them to do it."
How to give
Start by visiting adirondackgives.org, and then search for a campaign and select it. Enter how much you want to donate, and then submit payment information.