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$8.7M raised for 507 non-profit charities in Columbus

The Columbus Foundation held a 24-hour online fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 11, called the Big Give, in which 507 local non-profit charities benefitted, raising a total of $8.7 million, including the $1 million offered by the foundation.

The foundation offered $1 million in pro rata matching money for the Big Give, meaning that the money will be divided proportionately based on which charities received the most donations. For instance, if one non-profit received half of the $7.7 million in online donations, they would also receive half of the $1 million in matching money.

Doug Kridler, CEO of the Columbus Foundation, said that he was pleased with the results of the first Big Give event. The foundation’s website featured new software that enabled donors to look up nonprofit charities in a database and learn about them and donate. Donors were also able to give in honor of someone.

“Because there was a running total showed on screen and there was so much momentum and so many people giving, it really was an astonishing rate of giving,” Kridler said. “For 24 hours, it was philanthropic lightning in a bottle.”

The group with the highest number of credit card transactions was Mid-Ohio Foodbank with 436. Though this does not necessarily mean they received the most money, they were among the top contenders. Colin Baumgartner, communication director for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, said that they raised around $300,000, not including the match.

“We’ve always had a really strong working relationship with the Columbus Foundation and they’re one of the top foundations in the country so any time we get a chance to work with them and any time we’re able to get the community involved, especially on this level, is tremendous,” Baumgartner said.

Baumgartner said that the money raised is very meaningful and can go a long way to helping a lot of people.

“We distribute food and grocery products to more than 500 different partner charities across a 20-county region that includes Central Ohio and stretches all the way to the eastern border of the state,” Baumgartner said. “For every $1 that is donated to the foodbank, we’re providing $8 worth of groceries to our partner agencies.”

Normally, online credit card transactions charge a fee, but the Columbus Foundation essentially eliminated that fee so that all proceeds would go to the charities.

“But what we did, is we made an additional grant to each organization in the amount of those credit card deductions,” Kridler said. “So that way, 100 percent of what the donors gave would get to the non-profits.”

To spread the word about the event, The Columbus Foundation and the non-profits turned to social media.

“The success is highly derived from social media,” Kridler said.

Chuck Gehring, president and CEO of LifeCare Alliance, echoed that social media brought the fundraiser to the attention of its donors. LifeCare Alliance assists seniors and chronically ill individuals through nutrition and health care services, best known for Meals-on-Wheels.

“We emailed probably 5,000 to 7,000 (donors) in our system,” Gehring said. “We have a number of people who like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, believe it or not, so that, I think, tends to hit the younger crowd.”

Gehring said that the Big Give was important for LifeCare Alliance in meeting its budget to be able to provide its services. He thinks through the Big Give, the organization will be receiving a couple hundred thousand dollars but the numbers were still being calculated as of Tuesday morning.

“I think what the Big Give does, is it enhances the awareness of all of us and it gets some people who might not give normally, off the sidelines,” Gehring said.

There are 600 non-profits that make up PowerPhilanthropy, the foundation’s database featuring charity profiles, missions, financial performance and stewardship. To be a part of PowerPhilanthropy, a charity must go through an approval process. Donations are accepted year-round through this.

Kaitlyn Boggs, a second-year in microbiology and representative from BuckeyeThon, said her organization was not part of the Big Give, but in the future it is something it will look into.

“We would really appreciate the opportunity (to be a part of the Big Give),” Boggs said. “We’re working on trying to get the word out there so more people know what we do and why we do it so we can raise ultimately more money for the kids.”

Kridler said, ultimately, the Big Give was successful.

“It was not only in itself successful, but as it was successful, it created a greater enthusiasm and momentum,” Kridler said. “It sort of fed on itself; a desire to be a part of something that’s clearly historic philanthropically for Columbus.”

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