The Sacramento region put its money where its heart is Tuesday, more than tripling the $1 million goal set for the 24-hour online fundraising Big Day of Giving campaign.
The campaign surpassed $2 million by 6 p.m, totaled $2.5 million by 10 p.m., and topped $3 million just before midnight.
The local four-county Big Day of Giving is part of a national philanthropic effort that has raised more than $19 million for the 100-plus communities involved, said Shirlee Tully, a spokeswoman for the Big Day of Giving. Last year’s Arts Day of Giving was a limited test of software and machinery needed to pull off Tuesday’s event. It raised over $520,000 for the 78 arts groups involved, Tully said.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday the Big Day of Giving website, www.givelocalnow.com, had collected $1.78 million for the 394 participating nonprofits. The collaboration of community foundations behind the local effort said they set out to increase the amount given by local households, encourage a higher percentage of households to give and to keep a higher percentage of contributions in the local area, Tully said.
“I think it’s safe to declare victory on givelocalnow’s goals,” Tully said.
A 2010 study, which found that residents of the four-county region underperform philanthropically, was the impetus for the goals. The average contribution per donor household in 2009 was $1,990, below the national average of $2,355, according to the study. It also found that 62 percent of Sacramento-area residents give to nonprofits, compared with the national average of 66 percent, Tully said. The Sacramento Region Community Foundation also would like to see the percentage of local contributions increase from 63 percent to 68 percent.
To support charitable giving, the community foundation collaboration developed a website to collect online contributions and serve as a year-round information resource. Additionally, nonprofits were offered extensive training in identifying potential donors and reaching them through new media tools.
The Fair Oaks-based TLCS Inc., which offers adult mental health support, used the training and took on a high school intern to develop new outreach tools.
“What this gave us was an opportunity to step up our game,” said Erin Johansen, the group’s development director. She said the group had a goal of $5,000 and reached $4,050 as of 3 p.m. Johansen and her intern, Clarissa Huerta, a ninth-grader at the Met Sacramento High School, said they tried to pull at the heartstrings with touching “unselfies.” One picture featured a teen holding a placard that read: “My mother struggles with depression.”
Tully said social media have changed the game for nonprofits who know how to use the tools.
“In a way it’s a huge opportunity for nonprofits. You don’t have to have a huge media budget,” Tully said.
Tuesday’s event got off to a quick start, raising $100,000 in the first 51/2 minutes, Tully said. Part of the reason for the quick start was a $2,500 prize for the first gift received. That went to the Sacramento literacy group 916Ink, which had one of the more innovative new media calls to action. The group posted a series of videos that use live action or stop-motion animation to bring children’s stories to life. The group had raised $7,165 as of 4 p.m.
Other prizes and the matching funds (to be distributed proportionally) should encourage groups to keep pushing for donations right up to the midnight deadline, Tully said. The $60,000 in prize money included cash for top performers during designated time periods, for social media participation and other inducements. The prize and matching money came from an array of sources, including Wells Fargo Bank. The $240,000 in matching funds jumped to $250,000 as a result of the region collecting the most money nationwide during the 1 p.m. hour.
The jump was perhaps fueled by the Big Day of Giving halftime event at Sacramento’s Fremont Park. That event, along with the farmers market, created a midday buzz with charity booths, bands and a performance from the Sacramento Ballet.
As of 10 p.m. Capitol Public Radio and the Sacramento SPCA were ranked first and second in the number of gifts received.
The Sacramento Ballet ($89,386) and Placer Land Trust ($54,346) held onto first and second place in dollars raised as of 10 p.m.
Laurie Pederson, director of the Capitol Film Arts Alliance, said the group hasn’t raised as much as it hoped, but was happy to participate.
“I’m just blown away at the community support,” Pederson said. “Everybody is contributing to the greater good.”
Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch.