Online fundraising site gears up for Give to the Max Day

BY AMANDA SNYDER – MURPHY NEWS SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATION

Give to the Max Day has become one of the largest fundraising days in the world, and organizers are getting ready for the fourth event Thursday, Nov. 15.

The 24-hour Give to the Max Day sponsored by GiveMN.org creates an opportunity for people to give to their favorite nonprofit organizations and schools. Every contribution made gives organizations a chance to win more money with opportunities to double gifts throughout the 24-hour event. Nonprofits all over Minnesota raise money and support one another on this day.

“It’s incredibly uplifting watching nonprofits come out and cheer for each other,” Dana Nelson, executive director for GiveMN, said. “There is a spirit of support for each other that no matter what kind of organization you are, you want to see all organizations do well on Give to the Max Day.”

Donors have given more than $50 million to more than 6,700 nonprofit organizations since beginning in 2009. Last year alone, approximately 48,000 donors gave $13.4 million to 4,000 Minnesota nonprofit organizations.

The event also prompts creative ways to raise awareness for the event.

The Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has participated in the day for the past three years. This year, it helped raise awareness for the day by giving donors, employees and hospital residents 10,000 Give to the Max Day glow sticks to pass out in their communities on Halloween.

“We wanted to involve our donors and employees in promoting Give to the Max Day and at the same time do one of the things that our hospital does and try to keep kids safe,” said Jesse Stremcha, e-philanthropist officer for the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

The Children’s Hospital is also promoting its own Give to the Max Day carnival event at its St. Paul and Minneapolis locations. The carnival will have art and craft activities, prizes and a variety of supporting organizations dropping in with activities and animals for the patients and attendees to enjoy, Stremcha said.

“This year is our biggest and most ambitious year and effort yet, both in the promotion and in terms of the goal we’ve set,” Stremcha said. Last year  Children’s Hospital raised $50,000 from donors and received a $20,000 match to raise a total of approximately $70,000. Stremcha hopes to double donations and contributors this year.

HUGE Theater on Lyndale Avenue is holding its second annual “24-Hour Improv-a-thon” on Give to the Max Day. More than 100 improvisers participate and volunteer to put on an impromptu show into the late hours of the night.

“The event seeks to give people incentive to stay awake for all 24 hours of Give to the Max Day and to kind of incentivize people to give at all hours of the day when there isn’t as much competition,” Butch Roy, executive director of HUGE Improv Theater, said.

It successfully raised more than $9,600 from audience members and supporters last year and is returning for another year. Many people came out last year to show support and watch the shows.

“What is so fun and compelling about improvise theater is it will only happen for the people there and only happen once, “Roy said about last year’s event.

“Everybody’s tired and everybody’s getting silly … strange things happen that you have to be there to see.”

The night of fundraising begins at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 with a kick-off party moving into the official start on midnight of Give To The Max Day.

Some new features on Give to the Max Day will also make it easier for people to give on Nov. 15. This year is the start of scheduled donations, allowing organizations to ask busy donors to schedule their gifts ahead of time. Just like scheduling a household bill, the donations will be charged to their credit or debit cards on Nov. 15, 2012.

K-12 public schools can benefit from the event this year by participating in the leader boards to win money and special prizes, Nelson said. Give to the Max Day encourages students and faculty to get creative in asking for support from their communities to help raise money on the day.

And the Mall of America will again hold an all-day event hosted by The UpTake. The day will include interviews with nonprofits and a new evening program that will celebrate the participating nonprofits and schools.

Nelson encourages everyone to get involved.

“Whether you have $10 or $10,000, to give, it is a great day to make a donation and help your favorite nonprofit or school potentially win,” she said.

Amanda Snyder is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.

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