Community Foundation braces for avalanche of generosity on SOLA Giving Day

By Ken Stickney

SOLA Giving Day launches at midnight Wednesday, setting the stage in Acadiana for a madcap 24 hours in which every Acadiana resident can be a philanthropist.

“Midnight puts us into Giving Day mode,” said Nicole Durel Hebert, director of donor relations and a Community Foundation of Acadiana organizer. “This 24 hours is a huge push.”

In 2021, during the two-month runup to Giving Day, CFA collected some $800,000 in charitable donations for 183 non-profit organizations that could benefit from the CFA-organized event. But the one-day Giving Day response to organizations receiving donations online pushed the campaign total to some $1.8 million. Hebert said the majority of funds came on Giving Day.

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Hebert said some 196 organizations are seeking donated funds through the CFA this year. Although at first glance the numbers suggest modest growth in the organizations seeking funds, Hebert said, participating agencies this year include the Bayou Community Foundation and its Bayou Recovery Fund, which is helping the Lafourche, Terrebone and Grand Isle areas that were ravaged by Hurricane Ida on Aug. 29, 2021.

She said the Bayou Community Foundation is thinly staffed for volunteers in that area, but it represents some 30 or 40 organizations in the affected area.

Among those seeking funds are local charities, schools or anyone registered as a 501c3 non-profit.

Patricia Kahle, director of Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia, said the staff at that home and museum has been using participation in SOLA Giving Day to generate small grants to improve the home and grounds. She said last year Shadows sought money for signage in the garden; this year it will seek funds for gardening tools for landscaping on the grounds and perhaps additional signs.

“We are in desperate need of landscaping equipment to better interpret historic landscape,” she said. “Our goal is never much more than now — about $3,000. It’s a nice little sweet spot for us.”

Hebert said the individual organizations are working with their donors to market their participation in SOLA Giving Day. Some foundations such as The Pugh Family Foundation and Schumacher Family Foundation are making matches for donations to Love Our Schools, which assists public schools.

“Through this partnership all 46 Lafayette Parish Public Schools are participating and have a minimum of a $500 match,” she said.

Giving Day falls on Cinco de Mayo — the 5th of May — this year, which celebrates Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Hebert said workers on Giving Day will borrow the theme as they work past midnight accounting for donations. “This is Year No. 5 of Giving Day so we are calling it Cinco de SOLA,” she said.