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Crazy idea raises millions for charity

www.tggce.org/

Ten years ago, a local entrepreneur had a “crazy” idea. Philanthropist Elliot Goldman decided to create an annual holiday catalog that featured the work of Fort Worth’s best run charitable organizations.

As The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever celebrates its 10th anniversary it has become one of the city’s best philanthropic success stories – resulting in an estimated $11 million dollars in charitable impact, providing a platform to highlight the good works of over 32 area nonprofits, and unleashing a synergy between charitable organizations that now support each other in new and innovative ways.

We talked to Goldman about the enormous impact of The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever.

How did The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever get started?

Eleven years ago, my wife Heather and I were discussing the incredible number of holiday catalogs we received in the mail each year, that had nothing meaningful for sale. We wished there was a different kind of catalog, with gift options that were good for our community. So, we decided to create one, and offer it to our Fort Worth neighbors.

What is The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever?

The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever has evolved into a high-quality magazine-style catalog that is published and distributed throughout Tarrant County during the holidays. Inside, you can find meaningful ways to impact our community through gifts. You can gift someone in need a nourishing meal through Meals on Wheels, provide care for the homeless through Union Gospel Mission, support local military families through Airpower Foundation, or help Gill Children’s Services support the needs of children in our community. Each page of the catalog shows you alternative holiday gift ideas that will bring comfort to a neighbor in need, and may bring a smile to your face as well. You can give these gifts as a personal donation, or give a gift in honor of someone special in your life.

How does it work?

When you pick up a catalog (or view it online), you’ll see lots of different local charities. Read about their efforts and needs. Then, use the order form to let us know which project(s) you’d like to support. What makes this catalog really unique is that you can also order gift cards. This allows your co-workers, family members and neighbors to receive a catalog, read through the projects, and choose where they want their gift card amount to be used.

Donations in all forms are 100 percent directed to the charities. The catalog works hard to support itself so that all donations go entirely to the needs in Tarrant County.

You also have matching funds opportunities?

Yes, that is an exciting development for the catalog in recent years. Many of the organizations involved have matching funds opportunities, which means your charitable contribution can have an enormous impact.

This is also being used as a teaching tool?

One of the most valuable programs we have within the catalog is our Philanthropy Education effort. We work with local schools and have our organizations talk to the students about ways they can help support the needs in our community. The students get excited about opportunities to volunteer, and they go home and talk to their families about philanthropy, too.

The Once Upon a Time Foundation generously donates funds to some of these schools, and students direct these funds to the nonprofits they feel most connected to, after they study about them. Our organizations treasure this opportunity to educate the future philanthropists of Tarrant County.

Do you have help in the community?

We are very fortunate that many of our community leaders recognize the power of this collaborative effort, and provide support in a variety of ways. The cornerstones of our program are The Amon Carter Foundation, The Sid Richardson Foundation, Privia Healthcare and Dr. Larry Tatum, and our many media partners. We also have our own secret weapon — my father, Michael Goldman. In his retirement, he is deriving great joy in helping to cultivate new distribution partners every year for the catalog. He works tirelessly, and is the heart and soul of our efforts.

How has The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever grown over the past 10 years?

We have grown in so many ways. At the beginning of the program, we had hoped for modest charitable impact, and are humbled that today we’ve seen over $11 million in charitable impact for Tarrant County. The level of cooperation and collaboration between our organizations is also quite exciting. For example, The Cliburn Foundation performs concerts for clients from the Alzheimer’s Association. Airpower Foundation is now working with Recovery Resource Council to find services for veterans and others in need. There are many other examples that demonstrate how blessed we are to live and work in Fort Worth, where charitable collaboration really works.

Can you tell us about some special highlights from over the years?

One year, we received a donor’s check for $47,500 to be donated to four of our organizations for four specific needs. It was an incredible feeling to be able to fund those needs that year; including a van for Meals on Wheels, and all new tack for the Victory Therapy Center.

It’s also fun to build relationships with folks in other parts of the country. Even though all of the money that’s donated through the catalog stays in Tarrant County, we have regular donors in Florida, New York and other places who find that this kind of giving is interesting and super convenient.

Where can I find a copy of The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever?

We publish and distribute the newest catalog during the holiday season. You can find it at over 500 locations all over town, including the doctor offices at Privia Healthcare. You will also find it inserted into the November issue of the Fort Worth Business Press, and the December issue of 360 West magazine. And don’t forget that we are open for business all year long on the web at www.tggce.org.

So, The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever is celebrating its 10-year anniversary?

Yes! It’s definitely time to celebrate the evolution of this community effort. We have some big plans for this year’s edition. We will be revealing a new organization to our catalog family, plus welcoming back lots of our favorite organizations from past catalogs for this expanded issue. We are hosting special events, and expanding our distribution. All of that means we can continue to provide support and encouragement to our neighbors who need it most through The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever. Here’s to another 10 years!

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