Inaugural Delco Gives Day raises $1.6 million for Delaware County nonprofits

Gritty and the Phillie Fanatic showed up to celebrate the end of the Foundation for Delaware County’s first annual day of giving.

Three people from the UDTJ nonprofit

UDTJ is one of the participating nonprofits at Delco Gives Day. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

From Delco to Chesco and Montco to Bucks, what about life in Philly’s suburbs do you want WHYY News to cover? Let us know!

The first-ever Delco Gives Day raked in $1.6 million for the 282 participating nonprofits that operate within the county.

The Foundation for Delaware County, host of the inaugural county-wide giving day, announced the figure at Thursday evening’s closing celebration at Rose Tree Park in Media.

“It’s such a sign that people are looking for opportunities to come together, increase the size of the charitable pie and invite more donors to the table,” said Frances Sheehan, president of the Foundation. “And really show them the amazing work that nonprofits in Delaware County are doing every single day.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor
Phillie Phanatic and attendees
The Phillie Phanatic hugs event attendees as Rose Tree Park in Media. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

More than 9,000 donors took part in the charitable giving. Sheehan said the community smashed expectations.

A giving day is not a brand new creation. The foundation was inspired by similar efforts in Lancaster and York counties. Lancaster raised more than $8 million in 2023 from roughly 23,000 donors.

“We did a sector study last year and no surprise, what it did show us was that the nonprofits, they’re incredibly passionate,” said Monika Collins, vice president for advancement in philanthropic services at the Foundation. “They’re very good at their work, but they desperately need funding.”

Collins said the foundation saw this as a “community building initiative.”

Ginger the dog
Ginger is an ambassador dog with New Leash on Life USA — which will be coming to Delco soon. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

The event kicked off on Wednesday with two celebrations: one at Veterans Square in Media and another at Chester City Hall in Chester. Both included an array of local performances from area high schools and activities. From 7 p.m. Wednesday to 7 p.m. Thursday, community members had the opportunity to donate online.

Thursday’s festivities began with a breakfast tailgate at Lancaster Farmers Market in Wayne and ended with appearances from Gritty and the Phillie Phanatic at Rose Tree Park. Participating organizations such as Upper Darby-based social justice group UDTJ, set up tables as hundreds of spectators from the community descended into the park.

“This event has been very productive for making a lot of connections with other nonprofits. I think it’s a great opportunity for nonprofits to meet each other, collaborate and hopefully find some sense of community,” UDTJ director of operations Kyle McIntyre said. “Nonprofits themselves don’t have that many events and I haven’t really seen this kind of camaraderie since Pride so it’s good to see.”

Some nonprofits such as New Leash on Life USA are relatively new to Delco. The organization,  which serves a dual purpose in linking incarcerated people with rescue dogs, will work with George W. Hill Correctional Facility in the near future.

Frances Sheehan and an organizer from a participating nonprofit
Frances Sheehan (left), president of the Foundation for Delaware County, chats with an organizer from a participating nonprofit. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

They have already been attempting to reduce recidivism through the program at SCI Chester.

“We’re really excited to meet lots of new people, build partnerships with other organizations with to whom we can make referrals for our participants,” said Jane Bridwell, director of development at New Leash on Life USA.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Executive Director James Robert of the Saint Joseph’s Family Hope Center, a family shelter in Brookhaven, was at the event getting the word out about the housing crisis impacting Delco families.

“The one thing they all have in common is the rents and just the cost of living in Delaware county is so high that a lot of working families can’t afford a place to live,” Roberts said. “So when they come to us, we give them all kinds of social services.”

Sheehan said the foundation is looking to create an even bigger impact next year.

“We’re going to make a commitment to do this for years to come because it’s clear the nonprofits need the event,” Sheehan said. “They’re willing to commit to the event and donors flock to the table — and we think we can do bigger and better next year.”

Editor’s note: The Foundation for Delaware County provides support for WHYY.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal