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posted: 8/13/2012 11:01 AM

Local nonprofits need online votes to win $25,000

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Two Fox Valley organizations have made it to the final round of a competition for $25,000, squaring off against each other and eight Chicago area nonprofits.

The United Way of Elgin and South Elgin's Anderson Animal Shelter beat out 80 other groups to make it to the top 10 in the Chicago Community Champions contest. They are now counting on supporters to clinch the win by voting early and often online.

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A recent merger between Chicago-based audit, tax and consulting firms Blackman Kallick and Plante Moran prompted the contest, where online votes determine the outcome. After round one, 20 organizations moved on to the next phase with just 10 competing for the cash prize in round three.

Also in the final round are some major Chicago nonprofits, several far bigger than Elgin's United Way or Anderson Animal Shelter.

"I kind of feel like this is a little David and Goliath sort of thing," said Lynne Bosley, president of the United Way of Elgin.

Anderson Animal Shelter has already had some success in online voting contests like this. Last year it won a Toyota in the car company's 100 Cars for Good program and it is currently in the final round of an RK Dixon contest for a $15,000 tech makeover.

"With the use now of websites and various social media outlets, it's making participation in contests like this much easier for charitable organizations like ours," said Holly Alcala, director of development for Anderson.

If the shelter wins the $25,000 prize, the money will go toward humane education, donor cultivation and general operations.

The United Way is hoping to have the extra money for its school readiness initiatives, including production of the Getting Ready for Kindergarten Calendar, which will be distributed to 10,000 people this year across Elgin Area School District U-46. The top prize also would go a long way in supporting the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which keeps families stocked with free books for kids until their fifth birthdays.

Glenn Theriault, chairman of the local United Way board, said the best part about this contest is that anybody can help win.

"Whether you're a high schooler or an adult, anybody who has been touched by the United Way can participate and vote and turn that vote into $25,000," Theriault said. Voting for the final round is open through noon Friday and the winner will be announced Aug. 20. To vote visit plantemoran.com/bkmerger and click Chicago Community Champions at the top of the page.

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