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Reflections On Ten Years Of ExtraGive

An open letter to Lancaster County, by Sam Bressi

December 6, 2022


Ten years ago, on November 30, 2012, The Lancaster County Community Foundation launched the first ExtraGive as a pilot project. We wanted Lancastrians to get to know our local nonprofit organizations and better understand the work they do. We hoped it would act as a “handshake to our community,” demonstrating that the people who share this unique county also share many of the same values. To be honest, we weren’t quite sure how it would turn out.

That’s why we were in awe when, in just 24 hours, the community raised $1.6 million dollars that year. The day after that first event, the calls for an annual ExtraGive began. Since then, tens of thousands of generous donors have given $92 million dollars through the ExtraGive platform to support more than 500 organizations serving Lancaster County in a wide variety of ways. One hundred percent of those dollars have gone directly to the participating organizations to fund their work. The Community Foundation has never taken a penny.

Led by the energy and passions across our community, ExtraGive has grown to be a celebration of our shared philanthropic spirit. We’ve seen local sponsors provide funds for the Stretch Pool and prizes, businesses contributing their profits, donors joyfully giving, volunteers sharing their infectious enthusiasm, drumlines that stop traffic, giving parties across the county, interactive art projects, and more. For many, it’s one of the best days of the year. A day when we’re all rooting for each other.

ExtraGive has been a success because it taps into the spirit of caring and the well of generosity that runs deeply through Lancaster County. In fact, it has exceeded our expectations as a way for organizations to introduce themselves to new supporters while celebrating giving.

Over time, ExtraGive has also acted as a mirror that reflects the values of our community and has worked to spark larger conversations about our shared needs and dreams. As we’ve learned, we have made adjustments to the event so that it better serves the people of Lancaster County. While preparing for ExtraGive 2022, the Community Foundation carefully considered how to incorporate the organizational values that guide our daily work.

It’s easy to see what divides us, whether it’s politics, race, gender, sexual orientation, faith, or social class. But if we look carefully, we can also see what binds us together. The love we have for our family, friends, and neighbors. Our communal spaces, interconnected past, and shared future. The universal desire to thrive. These ideas drive the Community Foundation’s approach.

Our role is to embolden extraordinary community; to support a Lancaster County where all individuals are valued, supported, and feel that they belong. Our focus on building bridges by leaning into difficult conversations and integrating equity into our day-to-day work led us to add a simple requirement for participation in this year’s ExtraGive. Organizations were asked to submit a nondiscrimination policy that reflected their values, so that donors could make informed choices about where to give.

We recognize and respect that all organizations have their own values. With much intention, we created a requirement that was open to all types of organizations: we did not mandate any specific language, we accepted organizations with faith-based exemptions, and we understood that our community, and the organizations that serve it, is not a monolith.

While some have distorted the purpose behind this requirement and circulated lies and mistruths, we continue to believe that our community is better served when our institutions operate with openness and transparency. You are welcome and encouraged to learn the facts about the requirements for this year’s ExtraGive.

ExtraGive Myths Vs. Facts

We know from experience that working together in the spirit of community, while recognizing our differences, can bring us together instead of dividing us. Many different things can be true about a community at the same time. Our diversity can be a source of strength if we embrace it.

This is a moment of opportunity for Lancaster County, our shared home. It is a time to thoughtfully engage with difficult conversations and challenge ourselves to respect one another despite our differences. To seek out those with whom we disagree and gain a better understanding of their perspectives by truly listening. To stand with those who have been harmed and marginalized. To look to the future with hope and optimism.

ExtraGive is one extraordinary day out of 365 days in a year. While it is an eagerly anticipated day of celebration for many, the Lancaster County Community Foundation stewards our community’s endowment year-round through grants, scholarships, and legacy funds. As we continue to focus on points of harmony in our community by leaning into bridge building and equity, we invite you to join us.

The future is ours, Lancaster County. Let’s build it together.


Sam Bressi