#ThursdayIdeas | Sunshine on a Ranney Day, Amplify My Community, GA Recycling Coalition

Our #ThursdayIdeas blog series continues with three of the featured nonprofits from our just-published annual IDEAS issue of Georgia Nonprofit NOW.

Shining a light with social media

Sunshine on a Ranney Day, a nonprofit that provides home makeovers and dream bedrooms for children living with chronic illnesses, began as a hobby. In just three years, however, it’s attracted upwards of 89,000 online followers through its Facebook page alone—a cause-marketing opportunity that's gotten the attention of sponsors—and led its founders to give up their corporate jobs.

ED Holly Ranney began Sunshine as a side-project while working as a buyer and designer for Rooms to Go. With her husband Pete, an accountant from a family of builders, they decided to address the groundswell of need for wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and ramps, therapy rooms, and other renovations needed by kids with challenging conditions.

Once word of their work spread, support began to snowball. Sunshine found a team of “go-getter volunteers,” and a network of businesses, to work on and donate supplies for renovations that would otherwise cost families as much as $50,000. At the same time, Ranney built a vast social media community, which continues to activate supporters and partners alike (and also drove their winning Georgia Gives Day 2014 campaign, which raised $22,000.)

“We promote any company that helps us with our projects via social media," said Ranney. "It’s a win-win: they donate product, money, or services, and in return we spread the word about their contribution, helping their online media efforts." It also, she added, gets the attention of other businesses eager to become partners, giving Sunshine more resources to share with families.

Rocking out, raising funds

If you aren't sticking to a tried-and-true model, fundraising events can quickly get expensive. Because they don't have the time, connections, or resources to throw more dynamic events, said Amplify My Community ED Spencer Smith, “nonprofits are forced to use the same 5Ks and golf tournaments over and over again.” As veterans of the Atlanta music scene looking to give back, Smith and his colleagues decided to put their experience and connections to work for the community: “Our big idea was simple: host concerts, then give all the money away to locallyacting, in-town nonprofits.”

Since their first Amplify Concert, a 2011 show at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, Amplify has raised almost $120,000 in unrestricted funds for nonprofits in Atlanta and Decatur, including Decatur Cooperative Ministry, as well as Asheville and Nashville. “Equally as important,” added Smith, “we’ve exposed about a dozen charities throughout the South to thousands of new potential supporters.”

Chartering the recycling cycle

Online mapping technology hasn't just transformed how we get around. For the Georgia Recycling Coalition (GRC) and others, it’s also transforming impact.

Over two years, the Coalition has built and managed an online map connecting recycled materials suppliers with the manufacturers that depend on them for everything from carpet manufacture to soil amendments to packaging. For too long in the state industry, said ED Gloria Hardegree, there was a problem "closing the loop" between the two.

Created with two state departments (Natural Resources and Economic Development) and funding from the EPA the Ecopoint recycling map is the centerpiece of the GRC’s “Made in Georgia from recycled materials” campaign. Available on GRC’s website and partner sites, the map spotlights all points in the statewide recycling ecosystem, from material recovery and processing outfits to the system’s “end-users,” more than 130 Georgia businesses.

Beyond the direct results—developing the recycling economy and keeping waste from landfills—the map is also the first step in GRC’s efforts to quantify the burgeoning industry’s full impact, going beyond standard metrics like tons recycled. “Some of the nation’s largest users of recovered materials call Georgia home, and together they employ thousands,” said Hardegree. “And they’re only a part of the picture.”

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