It’s an exciting week at the Case Foundation … not because of us, but because of you. That’s right, because yesterday, we launched the 2009 America’s Giving Challenge – the success of which rests entirely on the ability of individuals like you across the country to step up and take the Challenge by supporting nonprofits in need.

Actions can range from promoting your favorite cause via social networks like Facebook and Twitter, to making a simple donation to one that touches your heart or speaks to a smart idea. The prize structure provides lots of opportunities to win based on the number of donations received – so literally every day different causes stand a chance to win – no matter how big or small.

Our 2007-2008 Giving Challenge mobilized more than 70,000 small-dollar donors to raise over $1.8 million for hundreds of nonprofits nationwide. We’re proud to once again partner with Causes and PARADE Publications to spark new momentum for passionate people and teams everywhere to harness the power of their online and offline social networks to catalyze civic action.

We’ve been overwhelmed and inspired by the thousands of individuals and nonprofits that have taken advantage of the social media training sessions and resources we made available as part of our Gear Up for Giving efforts in the past month. We look forward to seeing how new skills are put into action over the 30 days of the Challenge.

While nonprofits continue to struggle in these tough economic times, we also know that online giving is up and that nonprofits are outpacing other sectors when it comes to the adoption of social media. That’s why it is our hope and sincere belief that as with the last America’s Giving Challenge, individuals and nonprofits will experiment with social media tools and find new ways of engaging friends and colleagues to make a significant impact on the causes they care about.

As part of our involvement, the Case Foundation is pleased to provide more than $150,000 in award money for the Challenge, which will include both daily and overall prizes that will reward individuals and nonprofits who are able to truly galvanize their networks to get the most people to donate to their cause. In addition, a generous $20,000 contribution from the Aspen Institute has enabled us to add a second tier of daily prizes, which we found was a key driver of activity during the last Challenge. Along with award money, we believe that the opportunity to raise awareness and attract new donors, donations and supporters, as well as the overall sense of competition and urgency created by the limited time frame of the Challenge will drive participation and excitement for the campaign.

We recognize that we’re launching this year’s Challenge in a far more constrained economy than our first Giving Challenge. However, we also recognize that nonprofit organizations have seen a decrease in giving while the need for their services continues to rise. We believe the need for a citizen-driven effort like this, that leverages the collective power of individual contributions and micro-donations, has never been greater. We’re hopeful that this year’s America’s Giving Challenge will once again demonstrate the potential of social networks to make a significant impact on the causes people care about, even in tough economic times.

So, we hope you don’t delay. Everyone has a cause they care about and everyone can participate in America’s Giving Challenge in any way they choose – you can be a cause champion, donate or help to advocate for the causes you care about most. Tell your friends and make sure the causes you care about are part of this Challenge. More information and the opportunity to take action is available at We’ve also got a great set of resources for participants to help you get started.

We hope you’ll join us as we, together with our partners in the Challenge, set out to demonstrate the power of social media to bring people together in citizen-led efforts for good and to prove that micro-donations can be combined to make a powerful difference. We invite you to keep checking the leaderboards to see for yourself the difference you and others can make through this year’s Challenge.