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Orange County Shows its Heart on First-Ever Giving Day

Orange County Shows its Heart on First-Ever Giving Day

By Shelley Hoss

The ConnectOC Blog is a place for sharing insight, information and examples of how Orange County residents, donors and nonprofits are working to build a brighter, stronger, more vibrant community.  We welcome you to share your thoughts by commenting below.


There was a time when most Americans lived in small towns and the ties that bound them together were strong. When illness or tragedy struck, neighbors would rally to one another’s aid without a second thought — whether to leave food on a doorstep, join a barn-raising or shelter an orphaned child. 

These actions weren’t only important as gestures of hospitality; they provided an essential safety net during times of hardship by strengthening the social fabric that knit communities together.

Neighbors took care of neighbors. They gave where their heart lived. 

With 3.2 million residents, Orange County could hardly qualify as a small town. But the health and strength of our community depends today more than ever on our willingness to help our neighbors in need — which was the inspiration behind the Orange County Community Foundation’s “iheartoc Giving Day on April 21 and 22.

This 30-hour online event aimed to inspire all of Orange County to strengthen our community by supporting the efforts of nearly 350 outstanding nonprofits working to meet needs ranging from feeding the hungry to protecting our local environment. And inspired Orange County was, as evidenced by the 6,139 contributions received on Giving Day totaling more than $1.8 million for participating nonprofits.

Two nonprofits in particular felt Orange County’s love on Giving Day, taking the Top Dog award for garnering the most contributions among organizations of their size – HomeAid Orange County for large nonprofits, and Animals for Armed Forces Foundation among smaller organizations. HomeAid’s mission is both straightforward and ambitious: to end homelessness in Orange County. It’s a vexing and complicated battle, as thousands experience homelessness each year in one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. 

But 41 Giving Day donations totaling $54,162 will help fuel their critical work.

“To have 30 focused hours on this fundraising effort allowed us to share what we’re doing,” said HomeAid Executive Director Scott Larson. “We’re in development of critically needed emergency shelters for families in Orange County. The Giving Day funds will support HomeAid’s development of these needed shelters, allowing families for a place to go if they found themselves homeless.”

Animals for Armed Forces Foundation, which matches shelter animals with military veterans, was the stand-out among smaller organizations. Through their work, animals gain loving homes and the U.S. Armed Forces heroes receive free pet adoptions. This inspiring organization raised $26,915 from 48 gifts on Giving Day.

In addition to providing needed funds, the iheartoc Giving Day also bolstered nonprofits’ ability to share their stories in compelling ways.

The Dayle McIntosh Center for the Disabled and MOMS Orange County each seized Giving Day as an opportunity to up their communications game, especially through social media.

While the Dayle McIntosh Center for the Disabled deployed digital newsletters and took their message to Facebook, MOMS Orange County dominated Instagram. Effectively using multichannel communications is a brave new world for most nonprofits, and these organizations topped the leaderboard.

We learned a lot from Giving Day, but one lesson rises to the top. Orange County may not be a small town, but we know how to take care of our neighbors after all.


Shelley Hoss is president of the Orange County Community Foundation. She can be reached at [email protected]

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