For more than four decades, the Community Foundation of Lorain County has made dreams come true. That calling will once again be showcased during Connect to a Cause, the foundation’s third annual, 12-hour crowdfunding campaign that takes place Sept. 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“How often do you get to write one check and offer so much support to so many nonprofits in one day?” says Community Foundation of Lorain County president and CEO Cynthia Andrews. “We’re so fortunate to be a part of such a giving community. Sometimes, people feel like they need to have a million dollars to connect to the Community Foundation. But they don’t. They can have $5, or they can have $20. They can donate online or stop by our office with cash or a check. Everyone is welcome to join us. It’s a feel-good day across Lorain County.”

In 2020, more than 1,000 individuals raised $148,000, plus a $40,000 match, for a total of $188,000 for 56 Lorain County nonprofit organizations. Last year’s fete raised more than $277,000 for 65 nonprofits.

For this year’s campaign, the list of organizations has grown to 74. Clearly, says Brittany Lovett, the foundation’s marketing and communications officer, the need is never-ending.

“We’re a story that’s changing every day,” she says. “We’ve heard from so many nonprofits. Some had to cancel fundraising events due to COVID-19. Others are struggling to keep the lights on. For them, Connect to a Cause is the only fundraiser in which they’re participating for the year. It’s a time when we want to rally and highlight the positive initiatives going on in our community.”

Connect to a Cause will feature four virtual Power Hours in which leaders of participating nonprofits discuss the instrumental roles their respective organizations play in arts and culture, education and youth development, health and human services and strengthening Lorain County. Following each presentation, viewers will have the opportunity to donate to organizations to which they relate. Nonprofits receiving the most individual donations will be eligible for a bonus from local businesses that are supporters.

Laura Malone, the foundation’s development director, credits the Business Champions with being a crucial component to the appeal’s success. Each is invited to participate at the $1,000, $3,000 or $5,000 levels. Last year, community leaders assisted the foundation with creating a $43,000 prize pool for the nonprofits that were taking part in Connect to a Cause. Part of the money was put toward an 18% match for every dollar they raised. Several individual cash awards were also distributed during the event to help keep the nonprofits energized.

“We’ve elected to call them Business Champions for a reason,” Malone says. “They’re invaluable for the value they provide to our community and the support they give to local nonprofits. Many of the businesses that participate are located in Lorain County, and many have staff and employees who also lend a hand during the day’s events.”

The poignancy of Connect to a Cause is not lost on Lovett, who offers advice to potential donors having a difficult time choosing which organization to support.

“Think about what matters to you and your family,” she suggests. “What’s your story? All of us have one that’s filled with life experiences. No matter the narrative, there’s a cause here that will matter to you.”