As the clock ticked closer to midnight on Give to the Max Day, Frank Miley's cell phone would not stop buzzing.

"Are we going to win this thing?" one text message read.

Miley, director of development at Cretin-Derham Hall, had his doubts. The St. Paul high school was going back and forth on the leader board. At one point, it sat at second place for hours.

But once the magic closing hour hit, Cretin-Derham's donations reached $377,246 to win the competition at GiveMN, which coordinates the day.

All the money will go toward the school's financial aid fund, which supports about half of its 1,320 students. Miley said the school gives out about $2.5 million in financial aid each year to help offset the $10,800 cost of tuition.

"A lot of our students are dependent on financial aid, and Give to the Max Day is a critical part of that," Miley said, adding this is the school's single biggest fundraiser of the year.

This is the first year Cretin-Derham won the competition, but it has participated in the event since its inception in 2009. Since the school placed second last year, it aimed to be the top donation recipient this year. The school sent e-mails to about 7,000 potential donors, mostly almuni and parents.

A group of them committed to matching every dollar donated to the school during the competition.

"We have a very loyal and generous donor base, and they are very competitive," Miley said.

Late in the evening, when all bets were off on who would win the competition, an alum from St. Paul donated $50,000.

"That was a whopper," Miley said. "He was watching and really wanted to help us out."

Although the donors, parents and students of the school are thrilled about winning the competition, Miley said the total raised across the state is a testament to the efforts of GiveMN.

"The GiveMN organization has really transformed philanthropy in Minnesota," Miley said. "We are very appreciative of all the things that they do. This is very important for our community and for getting people excited to give."

Alejandra Matos • 612-673-4028 Twitter: @amatos12