If there is one event that truly captures the spirit of our community, it’s Kern Community Foundation’s Give Big Kern – now our region’s biggest day of philanthropy.

Give Big Kern is one day to celebrate the giving spirit of Kern County. This Tuesday, May 1, thousands of neighbors will come together to make a difference for nonprofit organizations in our community. It is designed to bring Kern County together as one community, raising dollars and volunteer hours through a 24-hour crowdfunding campaign.

Give Big Kern shines a light on hardworking, local nonprofits and empowers them to advance their marketing, board engagement and donor development capabilities, while encouraging connectivity and collaboration across the sector. It is a component of Kern Community Foundation’s Nonprofit Strengthening Initiative, which looks to increase visibility, build capacity and improve sustainability for local nonprofits.

Since 2016, it’s been thrilling to see this event evolve and grow. Give Big Kern has transformed the way we think about, talk about and participate in philanthropy in our own backyard, offering an opportunity to see firsthand how engaging neighbors can make a significant impact in Kern County.

In just two short years, hundreds of donations have been made through Give Big Kern, raising almost $350,000 and generating over 100,000 pledged volunteer hours to support the more than 130 participating nonprofits.

Give Big Kern’s online platform, marketing materials, training opportunities and prize awards are offered to Kern’s nonprofit community at absolutely no cost. Cash and in-kind sponsorships help to offset a portion of the hard costs with Kern Community Foundation providing staff support in the weeks and months leading up to the event.

This year, marketing efforts have grown exponentially with the enthusiastic support of some strategic business partners – Sequoia Sandwich Company, Game Some Sugar, Temblor Brewing Company, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, California Living Museum and even Jim Burke Ford – who have committed to special promotional programs. Even a small army of CSUB marketing students is pitching in to provide hands-on support to enthusiastic nonprofits.

There is no denying that together we have the power to make a difference and Give Big Kern is the perfect vehicle for us to come together. Our hope is that this year, we will continue to break fundraising records, engage an even larger number of community members and organically cultivate Kern’s formidable spirit of philanthropy.

At its very core, Kern Community Foundation is committed to “growing community, growing philanthropy” and we see Give Big Kern as an excellent way to connect more people with the nonprofits that make our community a vibrant, inclusive place to live and work.

Please visit GiveBigKern.org on May 1 and support your favorite nonprofit with a cash donation or a pledge to provide much-needed volunteer hours. Even better, spend a few moments to engage with a nonprofit you know nothing about.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of neighbors in need and show that the giving spirit of Kern County is alive and well.

Kristen Beall Barnes, Ed.D., is the president and CEO of Kern Community Foundation. Contact her at Kristen@kernfoundation.org or 616-2601. The views expressed in this column are her own.

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