Darien and New Canaan may be sports rivals but this year they will also compete for the title of “Most Generous Town,” in the second year of a fundraising competition between The Community Fund of Darien and the New Canaan Community Foundation.
What began last year as a fun way to encourage local donors to give to the two nonprofits on “Giving Tuesday” — a nationally-recognized day focused on charitable donations, held the Tuesday following Thanksgiving — has evolved this year into a full-fledged week of giving.
The “Most Generous Town” competition began with the start of the Turkey Bowl and run until midnight on Giving Tuesday, with the winner announced the following day.
“We think that will help at the game, and shortly thereafter, to make it really simple for people to be part of the competition,” Lauren Patterson, president and chief executive officer of the New Canaan Community Foundation, said.
And by highlighting the competition at the widely-attended football game, the two charities also hope to draw more attention to their mission of distributing money to where it is most needed in the greater community.
“It’s helping us to build awareness, because we are about human needs, and supporting your community, and that’s what we want to get across to the general public, because a lot of people don’t know us,” Janet King, executive director of The Community Fund of Darien, said.
Both charities say that money raised from the competition will go directly to local nonprofits.
Here’s how it will work: At the game, fans from both towns will be encouraged to make a donation by text message on their cell phones using a “Text-to-Give” platform. A live tally will be kept during the game, letting fans know who is winning in real time.
The contest will then continue after the game until midnight on Giving Tuesday. Businesses in both towns will give a percentage of sale proceeds towards the contest; New Canaan will also host an event at Gates Restaurant on Tuesday night, which is open to the public. Donations to either charity can be made any time before Tuesday night by text, by going to either charity’s website, or by check.
And the prize? The town that raises the most will win the right to proudly display a large trophy, emblazoned with the name of the winner and topped with a golden turkey figurine. Last year, the combined amount raised was over $70,000, with Darien winning by a slim margin of $1,040.
Yet despite the competitive history between the two towns, both charities say that this is a contest with no real loser.
“”We just want to help the community, and if we can bring more dollars into either community fund, we’re supporting each other,” King said.
“Everyone is winning in this competition,” Patterson said. “Because either town is going to be distributing these dollars to nonprofit organizations locally doing great work. So everything from senior services, to the arts, to education, to health – these dollars help go directly into the community where it is needed.”
“I think it’s incredible timing to be around Thanksgiving,” she added. “A lot of people think of Thanksgiving and football together, but Thanksgiving also brings to mind a whole lot of warm feelings about being together with people and community. It felt like a really nice way to sort of play off of a really fun rivalry between our towns. No matter who wins on the field or in this competition, we know that we are generous communities, and can we show that in a great way together.”