Donors support PJ Library in a big way during 401Gives fundraiser

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On April 1, 2021, Rhode Islanders woke up with an opportunity to make a tremendous difference to nonprofits of all kinds.

In its first year, in 2020, 401Gives raised $1.3 million for 366 organizations across the state. This year, 422 organizations took part and a total of $2.2 million was raised. And the Jewish community raised almost $15,000 from 60 different donors, which will help expand PJ Library Rhode Island.

401Gives is a statewide day of giving created by United Way of Rhode Island with a goal of bringing a collective voice to the nonprofit community and deepening Rhode Island’s culture of giving. It highlights the impact of Rhode Island’s nonprofit sector, which accounts for 18% of the state’s total workforce.

PJ Library is a worldwide program that mails free high-quality, age-appropriate Jewish books to children every month. A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library is made possible through a partnership with local philanthropists and Jewish organizations. Locally, it is funded by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, the Grinspoon Foundation and other donors.

The Alliance welcomed PJ Library to Rhode Island in September 2007, and to date has served nearly 2,500 children in more than 1,700 families.  There are currently 750 children receiving books in 41 cities and towns throughout Rhode Island, and 17 cities and towns in southeastern Massachusetts.

Since its inception, PJ Library has expanded to include 29 countries across six continents, and PJ Library books are published in seven languages. All told, some 675,000 books are mailed worldwide each month!

During 401Gives day, there were a variety of contests and matching-gift incentives, and the Jewish Alliance was the beneficiary of two of them. First was the Rhode Island Foundation’s $50,000 Early Bird Match, which started at 6 a.m. and matched every unique donation of up to $500 until the $50,000 was depleted. The Alliance made sure our community knew about this match, and was blown away by the response – some people even set their alarms for 5:45 a.m. just to make sure their donation counted toward the match!

The Alliance was also fortunate to have won the Banker’s Hour Contest – by having at least 25 unique donors by 5 p.m., it was awarded $1,000 from Centerville Bank.

Thanks to the amazing generosity of our community, the Alliance is well on its way to its goal of expanding PJ Library Rhode Island to reach 1,000 children and their families monthly.

ABI WEINER (aweiner@jewishallianceri.org) is the development officer for the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.