It could have been much worse.
Sacramento’s Big Day of Giving and 53 similar events throughout the nation experienced potentially disastrous website failures Tuesday.
A Texas company that designed the computer platform for the national Give Local America campaign, of which the Sacramento event is a part, said it experienced a hardware problem that snowballed into a meltdown.
Yet it wasn’t a total catastrophe, at least in Sacramento. Donations on the local website that failed, bigdayofgiving.org, along with direct donations to nonprofit groups, reached $5.6 million by Wednesday evening.
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The total fell short of the organizers’ goal of raising $6 million this year and matched the $5.6 million raised last year.
“When the challenge arose yesterday, nonprofits quickly switched strategy, and donors were still giving,” said Shirlee Tully, director of marketing for the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, which organized the giving event. “Sacramento did what it does best. We rose to the occasion.”
The Front Street Animal Shelter, for instance, exceeded its goal of raising $60,000 by $8,000. It raised $42,000 through the Big Day of Giving portal before it froze up late Tuesday morning and after it came back online, sporadically, later Tuesday and Wednesday.
The rest of the donations poured in from donors who contributed through the shelter’s own site and by writing checks and calling, said director Gina Knepp. About 900 individuals contributed to the shelter Tuesday and Wednesday, with average donations of $50 to $75 each, she said.
The shelter has been one of the largest recipients of donations from the Big Day of Giving, which began several years ago.
“We’re happy and we’re very grateful to the region,” Knepp said.
Other beneficiaries of the Big Day of Giving included nonprofits such as Capital Public Radio, the River City Food Bank, the Sacramento Ballet and the California Museum.
Bill Bronston, who runs a small nonprofit group called Tower of Youth, said he brought in about $7,500 through the malfunctioning Big Day of Giving website and nearly twice that amount from direct donations. Still, the total was only about half the amount Bronston was hoping to raise.
The Big Day of Giving accounts for much of his annual budget, he said.
Bronston insisted the company that designed the flawed system should be held accountable. It reaped a percentage of donations and would have to compensate its customers for lost revenue, he said.
That firm, Kimbia, of Austin, Texas, issued an apology to its thousands of nonprofit customers Tuesday night. Nationwide, 54 communities held donation days that relied on Kimbia’s software, including New York, Seattle, St. Louis and numerous smaller cities and towns.
“Like many of you, we came to this day expecting to deliver millions of dollars to nonprofits across America,” Kimbia said in a statement on its website Tuesday night. “Yet, the past 10 hours have been some of the most painful of our lives. We have let you down, the people we serve ... and we will work tirelessly to earn back your trust in our capabilities.”