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A historic summit between North and South Korea. Also on the Friday rundown: teachers continue their fight for funding; the EPA chief grilled on Capitol Hill; and remembering those who’ve lost their lives on the job.

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Christmas Comes Early: NC Charities and #GivingTuesday

#Giving Tuesday is a worldwide effort to encourage donations of time, money and energy for nonprofits. Credit: #GivingTuesday
#Giving Tuesday is a worldwide effort to encourage donations of time, money and energy for nonprofits. Credit: #GivingTuesday
December 1, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. - Giving back is what North Carolina nonprofits hope is top-of-mind for residents today, on "Giving Tuesday."

In its fourth year, the grassroots campaign to raise money for charities primarily uses social media to get the word out. Giving Tuesday raised more than $45 million in 2014 - more than triple the amount collected in its first year.

Jamie McDonald, whose consulting company, Generosity Inc., helps communities engage in fundraising activities, said she's been involved with the campaign since the start.

"Go find a nonprofit that could use your support, in whatever way you're able to give it, whether it's giving money, whether it's giving your voice, whether it's giving time," she said. "Take advantage of the Giving Tuesday movement and make a difference."

In North Carolina, hundreds of charitable groups are encouraging people to donate their time or money to support their causes. There are Giving Tuesday efforts in 70 countries, McDonald said, with millions of donors and thousands of charities.

With so many nonprofits participating in today's social-media event, many look for ways to stand out. Robert Wolfe is co-founder of CrowdRise, a for-profit company that helps charities with crowdfunding campaigns. Its app, called the "Giving Tower," shows users a visual representation of how their donations are combining with others to make a difference.

"The idea is go to in, donate to a cause you care about, and then afterwards watch the tower grow," Wolfe said. "When you immerse yourself in that experience, if you're not familiar with virtual reality, you will literally be blown away."

McDonald said using different platforms to encourage donations of time or money is a trend among the groups with which she works.

"For nonprofits, they can do a traditional email or mail fundraising campaign," she said. "But we're seeing many nonprofits do things that are more volunteerism-based, or more advocacy- or action-based, and that's been exciting as well."

According to a survey by GuideStar, a database of Internal Revenue Service-recognized charities, more than half the nonprofits that participated said they receive the majority of their contributions from October to December.

Information about Giving Tuesday is online at givingtuesday.org.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC