Annual CoMo Gives fundraiser kicks off in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - On Thursday afternoon, 92 non-profit organizations came together in Columbia to kick off the annual CoMo Gives fundraising campaign.

CoMo Gives, which started in 2013, is a fundraiser intended to "facilitate year-end giving to a cross-section of Columbia/Boone County nonprofit organizations," according to its website. The campaign started with 30 participating organizations and has expanded to include the current 92 local non-profit organizations.

The campaign relies solely on online donations through its website. The fundraiser raised more than $342,000 in 2015, and the program's founder, John Baker, said he hopes to exceed $500,000 in donations this year.

"We do this because we want to support the non-profit community," Baker said. "We do this as a way to help them raise money. We don't have a formula. We don't have any expectation. We just want people to understand who these groups are, recognize the worth of their offerings and, if there's some kind of a resonance there, we want to make an easy way for people to donate so their work can continue."

In addition to community donations, the Community Foundation of Central Missouri will donate $12,500 in challenge grants, which are awarded to organizations that complete certain objectives. New this year is a challenge grant of $1,000 for the all-volunteer organization that raises the most money in the campaign.

"CoMo Gives is a tool," said Josh Chittum of "We Always Swing" Jazz Series, which won the challenge grant for the most individual donations in 2015. "Just because your name is in the hat doesn't mean money is going to magically end up in your cart."

To see a full list of participating organizations or to donate, visit CoMOGives.com. The fundraiser runs from December 1 to December 31.

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