New movement focuses on philanthropy throughout West Michigan

By Meghan McBrady | 11/9/16 10:41pm

GVL/Luke Holmes Mayor Rosalynn Bliss speaks on stage from the podium. Mayor Bliss held her first State of the City Address Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 in downtown Grand Rapids.

Focusing on charitable efforts and volunteering, Grand Valley State University’s Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy is partnering with several nonprofits as part of the GRgives movement.

Modeling itself off of the "Giving Tuesday" initiative, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration, the GRgives movement was announced Tuesday, Nov. 1 to promote giving time and donations to West Michigan nonprofits.

Stephanie Adams, the marketing and communications director at the Johnson Center leading the GRgives movement, said creating a local movement for Giving Tuesday was integral in creating philanthropic engagement throughout Grand Rapids.

By last Tuesday, she said, the GRgives movement has over 104 nonprofits signed up to be part of the "Giving Tuesday" initiative.

“We are such a philanthropic community and I wanted to see if we could do this movement in West Michigan,” Adams said. “Reaching out into the community, we met with various nonprofits to brainstorm and see if this was initiative that they wanted to be part of.”

By partnering with over a dozen nonprofit and community based organizations like the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Heart of West Michigan United Way, GRgives allows nonprofits to tell their goals and mission to the Grand Rapids community through social media.

Utilizing online forums like Facebook and Twitter, GRgives provides smaller non-profits within the West Michigan community resources in conducting their own fundraising campaign, while also advertising their work through GRgives’ various media channels.

“We really just wanted to create a gathering space for nonprofits in the community and make it easy for nonprofits to get together and to network,” Adams said. “We are not just building onto the GRgives campaign, but building up their campaign as well.”

As the local movement correlates with the Giving Tuesday initiative, which is Nov. 29, Adams said the fact the initiative falls around Black Friday establishes the need to volunteer time and money during the holiday season.

“The holiday season is about a time of giving and a time of togetherness,” she said. “Even more so during this time of the year, you see how the community really values supporting one another.”

Elizabeth Itoney, a student at GVSU and the director of philanthropy for the Alpha Sigma Tau chapter at GVSU, said being active in a movement rooted in philanthropy not only benefits a community but also herself.

By volunteering, she said, a person can see the impact of their actions, large or small, and feel a sense of pride for the work they have done.

“It also allows you to have a different perspective on life because it exposes you to different backgrounds and situations that you can take into all aspects of your life,” Itoney said.

While there are still a few weeks until "Giving Tuesday," gathering and donating together as part of a daily initiative and not just yearly one demonstrates GRgives' goal in being philanthropically active in the West Michigan community.

“This is not just about giving in one day, it is a movement in being charitable and volunteering in a capacity that many people may not have ever thought of before,” Adams said.

For more information or to donate to the GRgives campaign and the "Giving Tuesday" movement, visit

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