Like our great country, All American Day Charitable Trust started with a simple but provocative idea. The Trust founders passionately believed, and still believe, that GRATITUDE in what each person holds dear about America INSPIRES GENEROSITY to those causes that make this wonderful country possible.
During Veterans Day Weekend 2000 in Washington, D.C., a light-hearted gathering of close friends planted the seeds for what would eventually evolve into the formal All American Day Charitable Trust. The first "All American Day" was no more than a day of sharing good food, drink, and an American-themed movie marathon. It led four young men to a focused discussion on what each held dear about America. The real world was staring straight back at these individuals - one active in the Navy, another set to graduate college in the spring, and the third and fourth planning to continue their educations. The America that they discussed provided comfort.
On that specific second Saturday in November, the four "founders" kickstarted an annual tradition: All American Day. It was devised as a yearly American-themed celebration that guaranteed a stress-free opportunity to reunite.
The first year was small, but the concept of the yearly event was inspiring. The founders considered ways to generate excitement among their family and friends to drive increased participation. Plans were made for subsequent All American Days to include costumes, games, American cuisine, and even varying locations.
In the years that immediately followed, attendance grew steadily. Celebrations were held every second Saturday of November in historically significant sites such as DC, Gettysburg, Charleston, Williamsburg, and Plymouth. Costumes stretched from the absurdly creative to basic, from Lincoln's Log Cabin to a simple farmer. Games included darts, corn hole, and cartographer's challenge. Nights ended with costume parade pub crawls.
With the yearly tradition firmly established, a clearer purpose formalized. The founders began including educational experiences into the day, including battlefield tours, the delivery of famous speeches, and readings from the Constitution. All American Day shifted from an event for reuniting close friends into a mission-driven experience.
The American-themed music, costumes, games, and historical locations of those early All American Days created a setting that was conducive to the attendees passionately expressing their appreciation for America. Ultimately, those expressions of gratitude triggered tangible generosity.
At the Gettysburg event in 2004, the first concerted effort was made by the attendees to use All American Day as a platform to raise funds for a selected charity - Homes for Our Troops. With limited organization and planning, several hundred dollars were raised for the cause. Contributions came not only from the attendees but from strangers encountered on the pub crawl. In retrospect, the founders imagined the impact they could have had with improved focus and preparation.
Motivated by their fundraising success at Gettysburg, the founders applied for and received 501(c)(3) tax exemption. It was a logical progression and a key step in the development of a truly impactful organization. On March 22, 2008, All American Day Charitable Trust was formally registered. Its mission was clear:
To inspire awareness and generosity toward well vetted patriotic causes.
The 501(c)(3) registered All American Day Charitable Trust continues to evolve.
Key volunteers have been added to the Trust's leadership. For his passion in supporting the Trust's mission, Kevin Gilbert was added to the Board, joining the initial four founders. His expertise has been invaluable in implementing innovative fundraising methods. Greg Biester has been added to the trust for his corporate sponsorship and finance skills, ensuring the Trust tracks and meets its impact and transparency goals. These close relationships within the leadership team are meant to ensure that trust and transparency remain hallmarks of the small, fully-volunteer organization.
The Charity Selection Process has been optimized. The criteria for the evaluations have been challenged to ensure the most effective distribution of donor dollars.
Fundraising methods have been expanded. Though All American Day (second Saturday in November) remains the flagship fundraising event, new revenue generation techniques have been employed. Quarterly events are scheduled. More gear (t-shirts, pint glasses) are available for purchase and Goodsearch/ Goodshop offer unique means by which fans of the Trust may regularly contribute with minimal effort.
Most importantly, measurable short and long term Trust goals have been clearly identified. To boost the confidence of the Trust's benefactors, these goals guarantee greater transparency and accountability as the Trust tracks its effectiveness in accomplishing its mission.
This exciting evolution has been intentionally aggressive, and the momentum is expected to continue.
Be part of this truly American story. Join All American Day Charitable Trust on its inspiring mission.