Thirty-six hours, 10,705 donations, 109 charities and the generosity of four foundations was all that it took to raise almost $2.5 million from Mar. 27-28. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Manatee Community Foundation and The Patterson Foundation sponsored “The Giving Challenge,” an online fundraising competition for Southwest Florida charities. People from all over the world donated money to their favorite charities and the Foundations provided $501,000 to match whatever was raised. This money was exhausted in the first four minutes of the fundraiser, surpassing all expectations.
“This was the first time in the Southwest Florida community that The Giving Challenge had been executed,” Community Foundation of Sarasota County Director of Marketing and Communications Robin Lankton said, “Our goal was to raise $1 million in 36 hours. Instead, we ended up raising [$1 million] in the first 18 minutes!” Lankton and the rest of The Giving Partner organization are working to more than quadruple the number of nonprofits affiliated with their company from 109 to 450 groups.
“The social media really helped spread the word and we kept on hearing from people that they were bombarded daily with information about The Giving Partner,” Lankton said. “It was a very important part of the success of this campaign. Thousands of websites picked this up and The Giving Partner website had 95,000 page views in the first few days. This was all organic. I didn’t have any Google ads or anything. The word was spread through Facebook, Twitter, newspapers, websites and television, and we ended up having donations from all 50 states and 24 different countries.”
New College Foundation Director of Marketing Marty Katz explained how New College became involved with The Giving Challenge.
“[The New College Foundation] was approached by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to write a profile about New College for their Giving Partner website.” she said via e-mail. “The website is an information portal that provides potential donors with information on a given non-profit. Only those organizations [that] had profiles on The Giving Partner website were eligible for ‘The Giving Challenge.’”
The first-place charity, The Manatee Players Incorporated, raised $188,091 and won a grant of $20,000. The Manatee Players is local theater group formed by the Bradenton Junior Women’s Club in 1947 and has grown to receive national recognition and multiple awards.
The New College Foundation came in second place by raising $81,275, earning a prize of $15,000. Altogether, with extra prizes such as the Early Bird Challenge, which gave a grant of $1,500 to twenty charities, the New College Foundation received almost $110,000.
One hundred and twenty-two New College students donated, raising a total of $402. “Harrison Sherwin and Matt Klinkel, who are both student Phone-a-thon callers that work for the Foundation, came up with the idea to canvass and personally went around collecting for three and a half hours each,” New College Alumnae/i Association Alumni Coordinator Sarah Thompson (’06) said by e-mail. “This would not have been possible without their support. This really shows the power of the New College spirit.”
Katz said that she and the Foundation were “touched” by the amount of students who contributed and were “blown away” by the amount of money raised. “Honestly, we would have been thrilled to have gotten $50,000.” she said.
New College alumnus Thomas White (‘67), who had originally announced that he would match student donations, was, according to Thompson, “so moved by the students’ generosity” that he contributed an extra $200 on top of the matching funds.
New College Foundation Interim Executive Vice President Clint Monts de Oca was also happy with the results. “The New College community clearly rallied behind its favorite liberal arts institution,” he said. “Through these gifts, we can ensure future generations of scholars will continue to benefit from small class sizes, personal relationships with professors and an Ivy League quality education at a public college price.”
To find out more about The Giving Challenge, the other participating charities and how to make donations at The Giving Partner’s website, visit www.thegivingpartner.guidestar.org/.