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Rochester Area Foundation shares power of philanthropy

Rochester Area Foundation's newest philanthropic program, weGIVE365 , has done away with physical boundaries and gone completely online in hopes of reaching out to more people.

"We really want philanthropy to be accessible to everyone," said Ann Fahy-Gust, donor and grant services manager for the Rochester Area Foundation.

WeGIVE365 launched during Thursdays on First and Third , where organizers helped people sign up and answered questions.

Participants of the program commit to donating a dollar each day for a year — a $365 amount that can be paid either in a one-time lump sum or automatically withdrawn in chunks four times a year.

Before the official launch, Fahy-Gust said 15 people had committed to a year's worth of daily donations, including one woman who bought her grandson a membership in order to introduce him to philanthropy.


Half of the money donated will fund grants for local nonprofits and organizations. The other half will go to weGIVE365's endowment.

In July 2014, members will be able to go to the weGIVE365 website and look at individual applications for grants, discuss them as a community and vote on where they want the money to go.

Whether arts, culture, athletics or environmental issues, the online voting aspect of the fundraiser aims to give community members a chance to support issues most important to them, Fahy-Gust said.

"One of the great features about weGIVE365 is that everyone who donates gets a voice," she said.

"You not only get to participate and be philanthropic, but you also get to make some decisions about where that money goes."

She said she hopes 50 grants of varying amounts, up to $2,000, will be awarded in the program's first cycle.

This model of philanthropy, Fahy-Gust said, would provide easy-to-apply-for grants to local nonprofits with smaller internal administration.

"W'ere really hoping to see new nonprofit organizations get on it with this," she said.

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