Focused fundraising benefits western Virginia schools, non-profits

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) One week after western Virginia stepped up to support more than 160 non-profits, leaders of the non-profits that took part gathered in the Roanoke City Market Building to celebrate a successful campaign.

'Roanoke Valley Gives' was organized by the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia, and brought in more than $823,000.

Roanoke Catholic School was the top fundraiser, with contributions topping $125,000, but many smaller non-profits benefited as well.

Lisa Miles is the Executive Director of Orchard Hills Achievement Center in Botetourt County.

"People like to give a book, or they like to give food, or they like to give to a specific item," Miles told WDBJ7, "but to get unrestricted operating budget is a much harder ask, so this gives us the opportunity. And through 'Roanoke Valley Gives' we raised over 20 percent of our operating budget for the year."

Others said they believe the 24-hour fundraiser will have a lasting impact.

Nancy Hans is the Executive Director of the Prevention Council of Roanoke County.

"Other people who never knew who you were, now start to know what this organization is doing," Hans said in an interview. "And hopefully you'll get new volunteers and new people to come in and support you the rest of the year."

United Way CEO Afira DeVries describes 'Roanoke Valley Gives' as an exciting day for the region and for non-profits.

"People are stopping their day to consider what they can do for others," DeVries said in an interview. "That's always a successful moment."

She said she hopes focused fundraising events like 'Roanoke Valley Gives' will also encourage year-round support for groups on the front lines of the region's most challenging problems.

"This region is fortunate to be rooted and surrounded by extremely effective non-profits that do really complicated work," DeVries said. "And that work happens day in and day out."

Focused fundraising events have also helped colleges and universities in the region raise funds. On Wednesday, more than 6000 people contributed over $2.8 million to Virginia Tech.

The Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia says its started 'Roanoke Valley Gives' because non-profits said they needed help raising unrestricted funds and building public awareness of their organizations.

Another benefit, leaders say, is the interaction between organizations that is now helping to build a stronger network of non-profits in the Roanoke Valley.