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Mike Saklar, then the executive director for the Siena/Francis House Homeless Shelter talks to the media in February 2016 as crews from Anderson Excavating Co. demolish two old buildings formally known as Omaha Foreign Auto Parts making way for an expansion of the Siena-Francis House. The local nonprofit was No. 2 in donations this year through the Omaha Gives campaign. 

Nonprofit groups contribute enormously to Omaha’s community well-being. Helping the homeless, providing opportunities for children, strengthening education, promoting the arts — these are just some of the ways these organizations address challenges, inspire the next generation and enrich our society.

In recent years it’s been encouraging to see the public donate generously through the annual Omaha Gives campaign. This year the donations for the 24-hour online drive generated more than $7.3 million to help almost 1,000 local nonprofits. More than 18,000 donors stepped forward to say “yes” to helping these organizations and their causes.

First-time donors accounted for about 30 percent of Omaha Gives donations, generating $788,000.

Nonprofits have had success with challenge funds, by which donations trigger automatic, dollar-for-dollar matching funds to a particular nonprofit. Such an incentive helped the Siena-Francis House homeless shelter, for example, which was the second-largest recipient of donations this year, behind Marian High School.

Although the 24-hour donation campaign is the central event each year, people are welcome to contribute through Omaha Gives at any time during the year. Indeed, donations over the course of a year average $12,000 a year, according to Kali Baker, the Omaha Community Foundation’s vice president of community investment.

The public’s investments in these local nonprofits bring big dividends to our community through aiding vulnerable people, inspiring young lives and addressing major civic causes. Congratulations both to the Omaha Gives donors and to these dedicated nonprofits.

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