Billings Public Library

Lauren Wright will spend part of her 31st birthday Monday helping dozens of area nonprofits learn how to spark donations during the May 3-4 Yellowstone Valley Gives initiative.

The executive director of the Billings Community Foundation will lead a “getting started” event for nonprofits interested in participating in the springtime initiative from noon through 1 p.m. Monday in the Royal Johnson Community Room at the Billings Public Library. Cupcakes and other snacks will be served.

Last year’s Yellowstone Valley Gives raised more than $85,000 for the 85 or so participating nonprofits. During the event’s third year, Wright’s goal is to raise $160,000 through peer-to-peer fundraising in which people donate online during a 30-hour time frame and nonprofits in turn host fun, educational events for their donors. Her participation rate goal for 2018 is 125 nonprofits.

“I figure, let’s do it big or let’s not do it,” Wright said.

The Billings Community Foundation pays for an online platform that allows residents to donate to their favorite cause, with every dollar raised — minus a $75 event registration fee — forwarded to the charity.

Yellowstone County is home to more than 800 nonprofits, and Wright is inviting foundations from surrounding communities, including Laurel, Red Lodge and Livingston, to join this year’s fun.

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“I don’t see why we can’t include them,” she said. “We pay for the platform, so all they have to do is register and do a little coordinating.”

With a $10 minimum donation during Yellowstone Valley Gives, Wright said that “anybody can be a philanthropist.”

“People may not have $1,000 or even $100, but if you give $20, you can pay for four people” to visit Wise Wonders Children’s Museum, she said. “You really can make a difference, because nonprofits here are doing some seriously good work.”

Yellowstone Valley Gives begins at noon May 3 and ends at 6 p.m. May 4. Details about a gathering to launch the initiative are being worked out. The organizations that benefit from the initiative are being encouraged to host fun events for donors beginning at 6 o’clock that evening.

A closing celebration will be held at 6 p.m. May 4.

Learn more about giving and participating options by visiting www.yellowstonegives.org.

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City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.