What happens when you combine great social media tools, a little bit of marketing, and the energy of hundreds of nonprofit organizations? 42,596 donors in 24 hours! We were amazed and humbled by the response this week to our second Give to the Max Day in Minnesota.
Our goal was to get 40,000 donors to give—breaking our record from last year of 38,000 givers. We had more than 42,000 donors. We made every effort this year NOT to focus on the dollar total as we marketed the day. Our goals were only around participation.
So—instead of a matching grant incentive that rewards big dollars, we created an incentive system that rewards organizations for turnout. (One of our second-place winners actually raised one-fourth as much as money the third-place finisher.) We wanted to encourage organizations to build their on-line networks and engage as many people as possible in their work and in giving.
While our donor count was up, we were not surprised that our grand giving total was down from last year—$10 million versus $14 million. We are proud of both numbers. In general, however, we feel like we create more value for Minnesota by inspiring someone to give $20 they otherwise would not have given than by shifting a $200 donation that someone would have given any way to a particular day.
The marketing campaigns we saw from nonprofits all over the state were amazing. (My personal favorite was a theatre company that locked their grants manager in a cage and gave him food and bathroom breaks only when they reached certain levels of donors!) A local media nonprofit hosted an all-day live stream broadcast with entertainment—including songs written just for Give to the Max day—and interviews with more than 75 nonprofit organizations showcasing their work. We saw dogs named “Max” being walked through downtown Minneapolis with volunteers bearing iPads and encouraging people to give. We had coverage on every major radio and television station. We watched a continuous stream of tweets from organizations and donors all around the state encouraging others to give. We saw colleges hosting carnivals and promoting “students to the max.” It was like a pep rally for the entire state.
It’s important to say that while giving events like Give to the Max Day make headlines, we think of GiveMN as much, much more than our events. We launched GiveMN with a partnership group of 12 funders to revolutionize philanthropy in Minnesota. In the 13 months since launch, GiveMN has raised $27 million for 3,700 Minnesota nonprofits. GiveMN is fundamentally a capacity building effort for Minnesota donors and nonprofits—providing powerful new tools (thanks to our partner, Razoo) to help make giving more efficient, more informed, and more fun. We’ve married local, trust-based relationships with Razoo’s cutting-edge giving platform and the impact has been truly amazing.
As community foundations, a major part of our mission is to inspire donors to give and to connect them with nonprofits that can help them advance their philanthropic vision. GiveMN.org has allowed us to fulfill this mission on a whole new scale. We’ve gone from working with thousands of donors to tens of thousands of donors. We see GiveMN as a critical strategy for staying relevant and for continuing to be a philanthropic leader for the future.
Jen Ford Reedy is vice president of strategy and knowledge management for Minnesota Community Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation