Philanthropy, grassroots-style: Xpress launches Give!Local

Giving is great — after you pay the rent. Everyone loves nonprofits and the work they do, but times are tough and many folks, particularly young people, have little or nothing left at the end of their paycheck to contribute to worthy causes. What’s more, tax laws are written for the wealthy, providing benefits for their charitable giving. But for those who can only afford to give a hundred or a thousand dollars in a year, tax laws generally don’t provide any benefits for their generosity.

Mountain Xpress plans to change that! While we can’t change the tax laws, we can find other incentives for those in the small-to-modest donation bracket. This fall, watch for a new way for Western North Carolinians to give back to their communities. Xpress is pleased to announce Give!Local, a new end-of-year giving campaign based on the idea that giving should be fun and rewarding — for all of us.

Based on an idea started in Portland, Ore., Give!Local is a two-month giving project that provides cool incentives for donors, even those making very small gifts. Give!Local will include an online platform that makes giving quick and easy, a print guide to the November-December campaign, weekly contests to build community excitement, and awards to exceptional nonprofit employees.

Richard Meeker, publisher of Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon’s alt weekly), and co-owner of the Independent Weekly in Durham, recently visited Asheville to help with the planning and development of Xpress’ project. According to Meeker, “In our first year, in 2004, Portland’s Give!Guide worked with a couple dozen nonprofits and helped raise about $24,000 for them. I considered that a huge success at the time. But now our Give!Guide has grown, so that in 2014, we raised over $3 million for 136 nonprofits.”

“I’m thrilled that Mountain Xpress has decided to create its own Give!Guide this year,” Meeker says. “This should prove to be of real benefit to Asheville’s nonprofit community — and as a result, to everyone here.”

Using the Give!Guide model, everyone, whether in Portland or Asheville, who donates money, even in small amounts, receives incentives, such as coffee, a cookie, a car wash or concert tickets. Local businesses that provide incentives benefit from new customers coming through their doors and exposure to targeted markets. Participating nonprofits get a needed financial boost and, of particular importance, new donors. And with a little luck, a couple hardworking nonprofit employees will receive a cash prize and recognition for their efforts.

Meeker has come to Asheville twice thus far to help shepherd the Xpress project. Due to his efforts around the country in past years, nine alternative papers have launched their own versions of Portland’s Give!Guide, including Durham’s Indy Weekly three years ago, which raised $151,000 last year.

Willamette Week tries to help one new publisher establish a Give!Guide each year,” Meeker explains. “Mountain Xpress and its staff seem perfectly suited to this sort of enterprise, as they already have deep ties to the organizations that provide crucial support to this amazing community.”

So be on the lookout for Xpress’ Kickoff party in late October. Start saving your pennies to give to your favorite local nonprofits. And let’s show Portland that Asheville is more than Beer City, USA.

If you are a part of a nonprofit that would like to participate or if you and your business are interested being a sponsor, email us at

And special thanks to The Thirsty Monk for providing extra support during our planning phase.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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