While charitable giving tends to peak around the holiday season, local nonprofits across the country banded together one day this May to raise more than $50 million in donations in a single 24-hour period.
Give Local America, a single-day online fundraiser, collected donations from an astonishing number of donors — more than 300,000!— and raised money for about 7,000 local charities (ranging from youth outreach and education to arts and animal welfare), according to a press release. The event coincides with the centennial celebration of America’s first community foundation — raising awareness about local charities but also honoring the importance of community in the this country.
The initiative kicked off at midnight last Tuesday, ABC reports. The third annual event claims to be the largest, one-day charitable online crowd-funding event to date.
Organized by platform technology firm Kimbia, Give Local America draws on the spirit of giving locally, allowing donors a chance to champion their community needs. A donor had to give only $25 to be a part of the campaign.
In Sarasota, Florida, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County said in the three years of participating in Give Local America, they’ve tripled the number of organizations involved and raised over $2 million each year. (Sarasota is one of 120 communities that benefited from the online campaign this year.) Meanwhile, local nonprofits and community foundations collected $6 million in matching funds.
Adding a little friendly competition to the program, participating community foundations and nonprofits raced against each other to raise funds. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County took the top spot, hitting the $1 million mark in the first 20 minutes of the event. Community Foundation of Sarasota’s Roxie Jerde boasted donations came from all 50 states and also from abroad.
Lynn Alexander, vice president of Michigan’s Community Foundation of St. Clair County told the Port Huron Times Herald she was “blown away” by the amount raised in her region. Alexander admitted that while majority of the funds raised took place during the 24-hour window, she and her colleagues spent a lot of time raising awareness leading up to the big day.
“It was like getting ready for a race,” she said. “The race doesn’t last very long, but you want to make sure you are in shape and ready.”
However, Alexander and other local leaders believe the message is not about how much is raised, but more about engaging donors to more frequently support causes: “The next step is getting each nonprofit to tell their stories to the people who support them,” she said, “so it’s not once a year or once every couple of years that they are reaching out to donors saying here’s what we do and here’s what we need.”