The North Texas Giving Day brought in a record $26.3-million in donations for 1,580 nonprofits, according to officials at the Communities Foundation of Texas, which organized the event.
"The key to the success is the active participation of all the nonprofits which are a part of North Texas Giving Day," says Brent Christopher, chief executive of the Communities Foundation of Texas. "While we create in-person opportunities to celebrate on the actual giving day, it is really about going online and making a gift and finding more information about nonprofits working on causes that are of interest to you."
Organizers say that to their knowledge, the North Texas total is the largest amount ever raised by a regional online giving day.
Giving days typically are organized by an umbrella group to bring together nonprofits, often grouped by geographic location, to generate attention and fundraising dollars. In the case of North Texas Giving Day, donors visited a website where they could browse and select the nonprofits they wanted to support.
The donations for the sixth annual giving day, which took place Thursday, included 98,056 individual donations. The average number of gifts per donor was about 1.7, with the most prolific person making 34 gifts. About 26 percent of all contributions came from first-time donors, Mr. Christopher says.
The community foundation held the first giving day in 2009 as a way to build awareness about the role of nonprofits across North Texas and to create a multipurpose fundraising tool, Mr. Christopher says. At the time, the Columbus Foundation, in Ohio, led by Douglas Kridler, was one of the few community foundations hosting citywide or regional giving days, he says.
In its inaugural year, the giving day in Texas brought in $4-million. It has grown steadily since.
Mr. Christopher says several factors contributed to its success.
Nonprofits were equipped with the marketing tools they needed. The Communities Foundation of Texas developed a tool kit with sample letters, Facebook posts, and Tweets to help organizations make the giving day a success.
Charities held their own complementary campaigns. Many groups used social media, matching-gift opportunities, parties, and other special events to bring in more money, he says.
Some nonprofit executives staged challenges in which they committed to losing certain amounts of weight or promised to shave off a beard. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science committed all donations raised on giving day to the recovery and preservation of some woolly-mammoth fossils recently discovered near Dallas, Texas. The mayors of various cities in the area hosted or attended related events.
The event attracted local media coverage. The local ABC affiliate, WFAA Channel 8, provided coverage throughout the day. It included an interview with Mr. Christopher at the foundation offices during the 10 p.m. news hour.
"We were averaging around 1,500 active users on the website at any given moment, "he says. "When we went on the evening news at 10 p.m. for that interview, it immediately spiked up an additional 500 users to about 2,000, and it stayed at that level for a significant amount of time afterward."
The attention brought by the media coverage, he adds, "is something we would never be able to purchase."