May 7, 2014

Midlands Gives draws big dividends for area nonprofits

Inaugural event raises $704,932 for 150 nonprofits

Organizers of the area’s first Midlands Gives day are crediting area unity for the success of Tuesday’s campaign, saying the results are a testament to the power of online giving.

The inaugural event raised $704,932.23 for 150 nonprofits across nine Midlands counties.

“We are thrilled,” said JoAnn Turnquist, president and chief executive officer of Central Carolina Community Foundation, which sponsored the event. “We asked our community to embrace this campaign and they responded beyond our wildest dreams.”

Turnquist said one of the biggest lessons learned Tuesday was the importance of unity. She said rather than promoting their individual causes, most participating groups had encouraged donors to support the entire community.

“Every one of the 150 nonprofits that participated received a donation,” Turnquist said. “The entire nonprofit community came together with a single message: ‘Let’s magnify the community together.’ We proved that when our community comes together as one, we can make great things happen.”

Turnquist said the day also reinforced the significance of online giving, noting more people are finding it convenient to donate online.

“We knew based on statistics that online giving is growing at a rate of 35 percent annually,” she said.

Turnquist said the foundation is still polling donors from Tuesday’s campaign about their online giving habits but expects the number of first-time online donors to approach 25 percent.

“Online giving is the future,” she said.

More than 5,000 gifts were made online during the 24-hour giving period that ran from midnight to 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Donors could choose from any of the participating groups and make contributions starting at $20.

Sandhills School had the highest donations at $43,472. PETS Inc. had the most donors, with 351 gifts.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic, not just for what we were able to accomplish, but for all the nonprofits,” said Rivers Hawkins, director of communications of Sandhills, a small private school of 75 students.

Hawkins said Sandhills took advantage of nearly every fundraising tip that had been provided by Central Carolina Community Foundation, which provided a free, half-day training on social media and marketing to participants.

“They gave us all the resources, and they made it simple,” he said. “They gave us all the tools and we just followed their playbook and came up with a few things of our own.”

Hawkins said leading up to Tuesday, the school contacted all of its parents and grandparents, sent out emails and promoted the event on social media. On Tuesday, there was an all-day party that included breakfast, lunch and an evening get-together on campus.

“We were here all day. We made it an event,” Hawkins said, adding every student had donated $20. “They raided their piggybanks.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Lipscomb Family Foundation contributed to a $55,000 bonus pool, and each participating nonprofit will receive a bonus roughly 10 percent of the amount they raised during the challenge.

Midlands Gives was part of the national Give Local America initiative that encourages people to make gifts that support vital causes in their local communities. The effort is a celebration of the centennial anniversary of the first community foundation in the United States and promotes and encourages local philanthropy.

“The true beneficiaries will be the 150 nonprofit organizations who serve thousands of folks across the Midlands every day,” Turnquist said.



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