Dallas Morning News -- Fifth annual North Texas Giving Day tops $20 million, breaks last year’s record tally
9/20/2013 5:52:58 PM
By CHRISTINA ROSALES
The fifth annual North Texas Giving Day smashed last year’s record total of $14.4 million by collecting more than $20 million by 8 p.m. Thursday, with four hours to go. More than 60,000 donors gave to community causes and groups they believe in.
The event presented by the Communities Foundation of Texas has evolved from an online fund drive to a live one, complete with flash mobs, pet adoptions, food trucks and arts performances at several sites in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“Having it be an electronic day is part of the underlying premise,” said Brent Christopher, president and chief executive of the foundation. “It’s easier to give that way, it’ll always be there and needs to be there.”
Donors were able to give online through Donor Bridge from 7 a.m. until midnight. By lunchtime Thursday, more than 1,000 nonprofits had raised $10 million on their way to a record day; the final tally won’t be official until Friday.
Each donation over $25 was eligible for a certain percentage of matching funds through a $1.7 million bonus pool.
“We realized there were opportunities to increase people’s real-life involvement and to celebrate the nonprofit sector,” Christopher said. “Sure making that gift is celebrating, but how much cooler could it be to see a flash mob when you get off the train?”
That flash mob during the morning rush hour at the DART Akard Station in downtown Dallas offered commuters coffee and doughnuts to help bring awareness to the annual event. The dancers were students at Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts.
Meanwhile, nonprofits that hoped to make as much out of the giving event as possible had been planning their marketing strategy for weeks.
According to Giving Day rules, groups can’t offer memberships or goodies to donors.
But some groups offered other incentives — if that’s what you want to call them.
REAL School Gardens, a national education nonprofit with a North Texas office, helps build gardens in low-income schools and trains teachers on how to use the gardens.
The group’s regional director pledged to eat one bug for every thousand dollars donated.
“By 8 a.m., we had hit $2,000, and by the time I got to my desk and settled in, it was $4,000,” the director, Scott Feille, said shortly before lunch. By the afternoon, he had eaten seven bugs, including a dragon fly, cicada and cricket, “all with Tabasco sauce.”
Other groups sent out email blasts or held events at their offices. Interfaith Housing Coalition, which provides housing, training and support to homeless families, sent handwritten notes from clients to donors to encourage them to donate.
The only official goal for Giving Day was to have nonprofits do as well as possible, Christopher said. But organizers had hoped to beat last year’s total of $14.4 million.
Some large organizations such as The Salvation Army and private schools raised several hundred thousand dollars. The event comes at a crucial time after the summer slowdown of gifts.
Earlier this week, the North Texas Food Bank issued an urgent request for food, volunteers and donations because of schools closing during summer and a demand for food from clients.
“We hear from a lot of nonprofits who participate in North Texas Giving Day that it comes at a crucial time because the gifts have dropped over the summer,” Christopher said. “They all have a lot of extra stress on their cash flow. So, the event offers a chance to get people engaged in the nonprofits and re-energized in their mission.”
Staff writer Staci Parks contributed to this report.