A new website has the goal of bringing neighbors, nonprofits and businesses together to strengthen the community by publicizing volunteer opportunities, wish lists, donations and upcoming events.
Share Greater Lynchburg, at www.sharegreaterlynchburg.org, is an inclusive, open marketplace of giving that is issue-agnostic, not ideological and not political, the site states. It is provided to the community at no cost through the support of foundations and corporate sponsors.
Eligible organizations must have a 501(c)(3) designation, serve Lynchburg or the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford or Campbell and cannot be a faith community, school, college or club.
Shawne Farmer, executive director at Interfaith Outreach Association, said the website is a wonderful resource that helps people find food, utility assistance and get connected with area agencies but is also a place for volunteers to get involved in the community.
“During the pandemic everybody was looking to do something, but they didn’t know where to go or who needed what, but with this site you can go type in what you’re interested in and who needs help in that area,” she said.
Lynchburg attorney Ron Feinman said the genesis of the new nonprofit came from having conversations with a couple of his friends who were all worried when the coronavirus shutdown occurred.
“And it became clear that this virus was spreading like crazy and I was looking around and just started thinking about what’s going to happen,” he said.
He felt that if all nonprofits and government agencies in the greater Lynchburg area coordinated at 100% and were operating at peak proficiency, there would still be shortcomings in meeting all the needs of the community.
Bill Bodine, president of the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, was a part of this group and is well aware of what local nonprofits needs are.
“We don’t really have anything this comprehensive and useful for the nonprofit community yet,” he said.
He said the foundation would often get calls from people looking to volunteer or people looking to find food and were unsure where to go.
“So we thought this was a great fit for people to have a resource so they can look it up for themselves,” he said.
Bodine said he spends a lot of time preaching to nonprofits about collaboration efforts because so many are trying to do the same thing with limited resources.
“This is a way for them to collaborate and we want to encourage people combining resources,” he said. “There’s limited resources and an unlimited need, so how can we get together and use their resources more efficiently?”
Megan Huffman, executive director of the organization, said the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation is the current home of Share Greater Lynchburg and that she has been grateful for their support in lending their expertise and credibility, nonprofit contacts, and 501(c)(3) status to get the organization launched quickly.
She said there are now 60 nonprofit profiles available on the site.
After attending a community solutions event put on by the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance back in March, Huffman said she became more interested in wanting to help create a way for nonprofits to work together.
“There were so many voices from nonprofits in that room that said, ‘We need a place to go.’ ‘We need a resource,’” she said. “So this is a wonderful marriage between the nonprofit sector, the business community and neighbors.”
Megan Lucas, CEO of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, said the platform creates a clearinghouse that the business community, volunteers and community need.
She added that more businesses are looking for social engagement with area organizations and want to add a philanthropic component to its mission and the platform allows for those businesses to get involved as well.
As the director of a nonprofit, Farmer said needs change drastically daily, so it’s helpful to be able to log on and change those requests on the website herself.
“You’re going to reach a whole lot more people that way to have your need met than to just do a post on your own Facebook page,” she said.