Helping Others

Big Day of Giving raises $5.6 million in donations from Sacramento region

Members of the Camellia Symphony perform during the Big Day of Giving event at Cesar E. Chavez Plaza on Tuesday. The campaign raised more than $3 million last year, when Sacramento finished second in the country in total amount generated.
Members of the Camellia Symphony perform during the Big Day of Giving event at Cesar E. Chavez Plaza on Tuesday. The campaign raised more than $3 million last year, when Sacramento finished second in the country in total amount generated. rbenton@sacbee.com

The Sacramento region ran hard against the clock and communities nationwide on Tuesday, eventually raising $5.6 million for local nonprofits during the Big Day of Giving.

The race got off to a quick start, with donations hitting $1 million by 7:30 a.m. and doubling within three hours. By 3 p.m., the leaderboard surged past the more than $3 million raised last year, when Sacramento finished second in the country in total amount generated during the first 24-hour fundraising event.

That success raised the bar for the second annual Big Day of Giving, which benefited 394 nonprofit groups last year. This year “Big DoG” organizers set their sights on raising $5 million for 529 local nonprofits and winning national bragging rights for most dollars donated. When all donating was done Tuesday night, Sacramento had raised an unofficial $5.6 million.

That placed Sacramento second in total dollars raised, behind a fundraising campaign in St. Joseph County, Ind., according to the website givelocalamerica.org. The capital region also was second in total number of individual donations, behind San Antonio.

“Last year, it was a new concept,” said Shirlee Tully of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, one of the local organizers. “After seeing us come in second in the country, it really got people’s attention here.”

In addition to a website, bigdayofgiving.org, organizers sponsored public events Tuesday in El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties to raise support and donations for participating 501(c)(3) organizations. The philanthropic campaign was implemented by a collaboration of community foundations serving nonprofits in the four-county region.

The website included a running total of money raised and a list of nonprofits ranked by total number of individual donations. The leaders were mostly well-established organizations, including Capital Public Radio, the Sacramento SPCA and the Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento.

But the opportunity to educate the public about vital community services drew many smaller groups to participate in the Big Day of Giving, including nonprofits specializing in animal care, arts and culture, education, environment, food and nutrition, health, human services, philanthropy and youth development. Many operate on shoestring budgets with mostly volunteers and few or no paid staff members.

The Sisters of Nia, a youth development program for girls from ages 11 to 14, partnered with other nonprofits serving the African American community to spread the word about the Big Day of Giving, executive director Synthia Smith said. At the Gender Health Center in Sacramento, workers hoped to raise at least $10,000 for advocacy, education, legal aid, health services and other programs for transgender people and other sexual minorities.

“This is a great opportunity to raise awareness about what we do,” center program director Alejandro Contreras said. “Plus, transgender people being in the news lately also helps.”

About two dozen nonprofit groups hosted information tables Tuesday at a “Halftime Celebration” for the Big Day of Giving at Cesar E. Chavez Plaza in downtown Sacramento. In addition to food trucks, the lunchtime event included performances by bands, choral groups and dancers.

Visitors high-fived Sacramento Kings mascot Slamson, posed for selfies with Dinger of the Sacramento River Cats and listened to speakers urging them to open their hearts and wallets in support of nonprofit groups.

“We want be known as a giving community,” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said. “We want to be a community that works for everyone.”

The Big Day of Giving is a campaign to raise $5 million in 24 hours for Sacramento-area nonprofits. This video is from the 2015 event.

Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.

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