story by Tricia Dewey
Almost immediately after publication of the March-April Focus “Money” issue the entire global economy began to change drastically, not an exaggeration. The nonprofits featured in the Original Memphis story had to quickly adjust to the new pandemic reality. They are working remotely or within social distancing parameters, hosting virtual fundraising events, and otherwise “changing our methods to fulfill our mission” according to Porter-Leath. They are still telling their stories and working to make Memphis and the world a better place—curing cancer, teaching children, and feeding those in need. Here is the article reshared on Giving Tuesday. Show those nonprofits crowding your inbox that famous Memphis generosity and share your favorite nonprofits in the comments.
Though there is a higher than average level of poverty in the city, Memphians are a generous bunch. In an October 2019 study published by MagnifyMoney, out of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, Memphis was the third-most charitable city. Nearly 90 percent of itemized returns from Memphis listed a charitable donation, and six percent of Memphians’ income was donated to charity, an average of $8,327 per itemized return. It’s no wonder that The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Memphis as at or near the top of the most generous city list since 2015. Here’s a look at a handful of Memphis and Shelby County’s 1,500 nonprofits that are beneficiaries of at least some of this Memphis generosity.
ALSAC/ST. JUDE has been around since 1957. It is the public relations and fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the world-renowned cancer treatment and research hospital for children, located in downtown Memphis. ALSAC (American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities) was formed to raise money for the hospital. Danny Thomas, the founder of this group, decided to locate the hospital in Memphis because of a suggestion by a mentor, Cardinal Samuel Stritch, who had been pastor of St. Patrick’s Memphis. The hospital opened in 1962 and since then has made huge strides in childhood cancer research, improving the survival rate of all childhood cancer from just 20 percent when its doors opened to 80 percent today. St. Jude provides treatment, travel, housing, and food at no cost to patients. It costs $2.2 million per day to operate, 75 percent of which comes from public contributions.
St. Jude’s fundraising machine is legendary with 38 field development offices around the country, and its connection to Memphis is undeniable. Memphis hosts two main events: the St. Jude Memphis Marathon which started in 2002, and the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational that started in 1970. The marathon held yearly on the first Saturday in December has raised a total of $90 million. Golf tournament fundraising totals $43 million. Donations fund treatment and continued expansion of the St. Jude Memphis campus with facilities like the Advanced Research Center scheduled to open in 2021. The 2019 race, which now includes a half marathon, 10k, and 5k, raised a record $12 million, the largest one-day fundraiser for St. Jude. You can run or be a St. Jude Hero committing to a personal fundraising goal or you can contribute directly to St. Jude at Stjude.org.
SLINGSHOT MEMPHIS is a relative newcomer to the Memphis nonprofit scene having arrived in 2017 with a new and exciting approach. They strive to work alongside other Memphis nonprofits to help them perform better. There is a moral imperative and an urgency to their three-pronged strategy: They identify which organizations have the evidence or potential to create the most impact; use data analysis and critical observation to help organizations maximize their poverty-fighting impact; and attract and direct more resources–financial and otherwise–toward these affiliated groups. Slingshot opened shop working with four Memphis organizations and has since increased to 23 groups, including Just City and MIFA. As Justin Miller, Slingshot CEO and native Memphian, notes “Memphis is both beautiful and broken….Memphis has a unique opportunity to build a results-driven, poverty-fighting ecosystem. And, if we are successful, this could happen anywhere. But most importantly, this is home and our neighbors deserve nothing less.”
BOOKS FROM BIRTH SHELBY COUNTY, part of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, is the largest of 1,700 in the United States that provide books to all kids, once a month, from birth to age five. This organization is now part of Porter-Leath, which has worked to help low-income children and families in Memphis since 1850.
BRIDGES USA seeks to equip Memphis youth of every color to make connections in their communities. Their Bridge Builders program, begun in 1988, helps kids in grades 6 to 12 to develop real-world skills to impact Memphis schools and neighborhoods.
GIRLS ON THE RUN MEMPHIS is centered on a 10-week program based at 10 local elementary and middle schools in the Greater Memphis area that trains girls in grades 3 to 8 to run a celebratory 5k. Along the way coaches help the girls build character, increase confidence, and connect to coaches and teammates. gotrmemphis.org
MARIPOSAS COLLECTIVE began organically as the need arose to meet migrants released from detention traveling through the Memphis Greyhound bus station with few or no belongings. Based out of First Congregational Church, Mariposas has served more than 38,000 asylum seekers since October 2018.
METROPOLITAN INTER-FAITH ASSOCIATION, or MIFA, arose in 1968 as Memphis
religious leaders published a letter in the Sunday Commercial Appeal asking Memphis to “purge their souls of every vestige of prejudice.” Since then MIFA has become the premier direct action organization for helping those in need with programs like Meals on Wheels, and Rapid Rehousing.
MY CUP OF TEA is a tea retail business located in Orange Mound that sells tea online and through local distributors like Palladio and Novel while also providing job training and other life skills to women of Orange Mound. Purchase their tea at shopmycupoftea.com.
MYSTIC KREWE OF PEGASUS MEMPHIS hosts fundraising events including Mardi Gras Ball and Drag Bingo to donate to the chosen charity of the current king and queen. Since 2003, they’ve raised $306,473.
SHELBY FARMS PARK, a former penal farm but now everyone’s favorite 4,500-acre Memphis park, completed a $52 million upgrade in 2016. Its trails are now connected to the Greenline and Greenway, it hosts the Mempho music festival, and it will be the host site for the St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis in October. It’s also the only place in Memphis where you can adopt a buffalo!
Last but not least, Memphis is home to several great DOG RESCUE GROUPS including Streetdog Foundation (streetdogfoundation.com), Tails of Hope Dog Rescue
(tailsofhopedogrescue.com), and Wilson Animal Rescue (wilsonanimalrescue.com).
All of these organizations welcome financial donations, but they also welcome volunteers to their organizations. Contact them directly for more information on volunteer opportunities. Don’t see your favorite non-profit listed? Like Focus Mid-South on Facebook and Instagram and put links to your favorites in the comments!