Thursday, 19 September 2013 15:58

Respond Now

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Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit one of the SPI Idea Contest Winners: Respond Now.

Respond Now functions as an emergency safety net for families in 22 communities across the South Suburbs of Chicago by providing resources for immediate, short-term assistance in food security, housing and medical resources. As described by associate director, Amy Weber, Respond Now helps to “stabilize and empower” families in crisis. While Respond Now provides families with an array of services, Weber explained that the most important service they provide is hope. However, providing hope does not come cheap. Respond Now relies on various grants, AmeriCorps volunteers and donations from individuals, corporations and other organizations. Like many non-profit organizations, Respond Now faces many fundraising challenges including trial-and-error strategies, the geographical gap between the donors and the communities in need and communicating the struggle and need in the South Suburban communities.

Respond Now was one of the 58 organizations that submitted a research idea to the SPI Idea Contest. After years of playing the game of hit-or-miss with their fundraising efforts, Respond Now submitted the question: “Is it more effective to solicit for specific needs (stocking a food pantry) or general issues (hunger)?” Their question landed them second place in the SPI Idea Contest and a $700 prize.

Respond Now plans to use the prize money to help stabilize a family in crisis. Respond Now hopes to build a relationship with SPI to learn how to fundraise more effectively, build awareness of their mission and to develop a fundraising network. Respond Now’s latest fundraising goal is to raise $20,000 to purchase a new van to distribute food to families.

The SPI Team would like to extend our congratulations to Respond Now for winning second place in the SPI Idea Contest! We look forward to continuing a fruitful relationship with Respond Now. Their inspiring work motivates our researchers to learn how we can assist in raising more funds so their compassionate staff and volunteers can continue to provide hope in their community.

For more information, visit Respond Now’s website:

respond now

Two girls enjoy the Reading Room while they wait for their mother to receive one of the many services offered by Respond Now. Children are encouraged to take any book from the Reading Room.

respond now

The Food Pantry houses stable foods for families in need. Families are able to choose which foods they can take home.

Last modified on Friday, 21 November 2014 11:20
Alannah Hoefler

Alannah Hoefler is a Research Specialist at the University of Chicago with the Science of Philanthropy Initiative