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Raising money and awareness for a nonprofit group takes creativity on top of blood, sweat and tears. A simple car wash or bake sale isn’t going to pay thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, help sustain the environment or build houses for low-income families. That’s why representatives from area nonprofit groups can never stop brainstorming unique ways to fund their organizations.

NOAH’S HOPE ANIMAL RESCUE: Social media

Deanna Jarvis and Judy Stanwick know how to navigate social media. The two, president and board member of the group, respectively, along with other volunteers have boosted Noah’s Hope’s Facebook’s followers from 1,400 three years ago to more than 13,000 today.

“I think most of our fans come from the fact that we don’t just have the typical ‘This dog is for adoption’ post,” said Jarvis. “We have the dogs’ stories. A lot of times the dogs come in neglected or abused. We post pictures and updates and people like it when they see those same dogs healthy and getting adopted to a family later.”

It’s this appeal to emotion that makes Facebook followers want to do anything they can to help the group in their mission.

“Anytime there is a contest that involves voting online and we post it to our Facebook page, it’s done. Our followers vote for us so many times that the competition is done,” said Jarvis. “We appreciate that so much.”

The group recently won 500 pounds of dog food to feed approximately 60 rescue dogs that it fosters at a time and it also won a $10,000 Chase grant which helped alleviate veterinary bills which typically run $5,000 per month.

“People can adopt, foster, donate, fund-raise, anything,” said Stanwick. “It all makes a difference and it’s all going to help these dogs.”

DOROTHY PECAUT NATURE CENTER: Beer tasting

Finding ways to raise money from new audiences can be a challenge that nonprofit groups face. Often, creativity is key to making ends meet. Enter: Nature Calls beer tasting event for Dorothy Pecaut.

“We were looking for ways to be a little broader reaching and raise money from people who might not normally come to the center,” said Dawn Snyder, naturalist and educator for Dorothy Pecaut. “That’s why we came up with the beer-tasting fundraiser.”

The casual event takes place at the end of September and features a large variety of brews and hors d’oeuvres.

“There’s been great success over the years with this event,” said Snyder. “It’s in its 11th year and it’s neat seeing a different group of people than normally come to the center.”

In recent years, Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center was able to renovate its exhibits, build a large raptor house and construct an outdoor play area from proceeds raised at the event.

“All of the money we raise from it goes back into the center,” Snyder said. “If we don’t provide learning opportunities and stress the importance of protecting habitats and clean water for local and rare animals and plants, they won’t be around to enjoy and sustain future populations.”

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY: Recycling

Home renovation projects almost always result in perfectly good items being thrown away to make room for newer items that match the design scheme. Katie Roberts, executive director of the Siouxland chapter of Habitat for Humanity, encourages people to think twice before tossing.

The group, which builds affordable houses for low-income families, also runs a ReStore where people can donate gently used household items where low-income families can purchase the goods at a fraction of the cost.

“If someone just doesn’t like the color of their cabinets and they want to switch them out, they can donate them,” Roberts said. “It’s an easy way for people to give back.”

The ReStore also receives donations from local retail stores, contractors, churches and businesses that are renovating either a customer’s or their building and have extra items that they no longer need.

“It saves them the expense of having to take things to the dump and it gives us items for the houses,” Roberts said.

The group assists families who, despite working hard, have difficulty making ends meet with high rent payments and too few rooms to accommodate multiple children.

“It’s important to make sure that we help the people that would otherwise fall through the gap,” said Roberts. “We take pride in the fact that we’re a hand up not a hand out.”

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