A modern-day Rosie the Riveter, Jaclyn Suffel inspires people to get the job done. In her case, the job is to support Memphis-area nonprofits and to create a sense of community around philanthropic giving. Her energy is contagious, so when she tied her signature holiday giving program, Grit. Grind. Give., to another popular Memphis movement, 901Rocks!, it made sense that others wanted to get involved. “Grit. Grind. Give. is a good bandwagon to jump on,” Jaclyn says. “People see that they can do something good for the world and can inspire others from where they are — at their computer or in their living room. It’s a very accessible campaign to make a palpable difference.”
As the strategic communications manager for the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence, Jaclyn created Grit. Grind. Give. in November 2015 as a localized #GivingTuesday movement. A year later, the movement is now endorsed by a host of Memphis-centric organizations, including the City of Memphis itself and Mayor Jim Strickland, Choose 901, CityCurrent, JustMyMemphis, Leadership Memphis, Association of Fundraising Professionals and Volunteer Odyssey.
In addition to providing marketing materials to Alliance member organizations and supporting their individual Grit. Grind. Give. efforts, Jaclyn wanted to promote the movement in a more creative, light-hearted way. To that end, the partnership between the Alliance and 901Rocks! seemed almost fated. In much the same way Suffel dreamt up the idea for Grit. Grind. Give., her notion to have Alliance members paint “nonprofit rocks” came to her on a whim, just as her head hit the pillow one night.
Soon after, she contacted 901Rocks! cofounder Amy McSpadden, whom Jaclyn knew through her previous work in education reform. Turns out, Amy was equally gung ho about the idea. Together, they organized the first-ever Alliance Nonprofit Rock Painting Party on October 27, 2016. Neighbors of Amy’s, the Bergtson family, donated hundreds of rocks, the Art Center donated paint and markers, the Brooks Museum of Art donated the classroom space, and the Alliance provided the glaze to seal the rocks. Voilà — all the makings of a rock painting party!
“The mission of 901Rocks! is to cultivate kindness, plant joy and harvest hope for a better tomorrow in the 901,” says Amy, a visual art teacher at Bruce Elementary. “Memphis and the surrounding areas have many amazing nonprofits that are ultimately working toward the same goal for making Memphis a better place.”
Jaclyn says it was Amy’s ingenious idea to print small QR codes to adhere to the back of the rocks. That way, eventual rock “finders” can scan the code with their smartphones, visit the Grit. Grind. Give. webpage, and decide whether they want to become “funders” (aka Grit. Grind. Givers.) of the nonprofit whose logo appears on the front.
The organizations represented on this first batch of nonprofit rocks are as varied as their designs might indicate, so rock hunters are sure to find a cause they’d like to support on Giving Tuesday, which falls on November 29 this year. The inaugural “nonprofit rock” painters included representatives from Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group, Friends for Life Corporation, Girl Scouts Heart of the South, the JC Runyon Foundation, Memphis Opportunity Scholarship Trust (MOST), Meritan, National Foundation for Transplants and more.
The goal of Grit. Grind. Give. is not only to raise awareness about the hundreds of nonprofits making a difference in the Memphis area but also to tap into the bigheartedness of the third most generous city in the United States. (Yes, that’s Memphis!) To make the campaign accessible to people of all ages and giving capacities, Grit. Grind. Give. has encouraged each nonprofit to state what it could do with a $25 donation.
For example, at the Memphis-based National Foundation for Transplants (NFT), a $25 gift would cover a copay for a transplant patient’s medication or provide a per-diem stipend for a patient to travel to a transplant center.
“A transplant patient will have transplant-related expenses for the rest of their life,” Samantha Palazolo of NFT shares. “The surgery is just the tip of the iceberg. They will have follow-ups and expensive daily anti-rejection medications that are just as important to survival as the surgery itself.”
Thankfully, Grit. Grind. Give. is a philanthropic movement that anyone can be a part of, and its partnership with 901Rocks! makes it perfect for engaging kids. If you stumble upon a nonprofit rock while you’re with a child, pull up the nonprofit website together. If you can give to the cause, great! If not, then perhaps create some nonprofit rocks of your own. Hide those rocks, and spread the generosity!
“If I had my druthers, this (Grit. Grind. Give. movement) turns into a holiday that people know is coming, and it is part of the fabric of the Memphis holiday season,” Jaclyn says. “And if I get Tony Allen on tape endorsing it, I’ll retire.”
If you want to get involved in Grit. Grind. Give., sign up for the Volunteer Odyssey’s rock painting pop-up on Tuesday, November 29, or give to an Alliance member organization this holiday season!
Thanks to Lisa Buser for her photos of the rock painting party!
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