The first-ever Give At Home MN statewide campaign drew in $5.2 million for Minnesota nonprofits and schools this month, boosting organizations strained by the coronavirus outbreak and economic downturn.

GiveMN, the nonprofit that puts on the Give to the Max Day in November, the largest annual giving day in the state, hosted the eight-day campaign from May 1-8. On average, $1,800 went to each of the 2,800 schools and nonprofits that received donations.

"It significantly exceeded our expectations," said Jake Blumberg, executive director of GiveMN. "I think during a crisis like this, some communities come together and some don't. Clearly ... Minnesota has come together to support one another."

The online fundraiser coincided with a critical time for Minnesota's more than 9,000 nonprofits. May is when spring galas and key fundraisers are usually held, now postponed or pushed to virtual platforms. May 5 was also a national day of giving promoted by Giving Tuesday, a nonprofit known for its fundraiser the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

During the crisis, nonprofits' expenses, especially those providing food for a growing number of people in need, are rising, and some are cutting costs by furloughing or laying off staff. Some nonprofit leaders worry that the influx of giving just means donors are shifting donations to earlier in the year and may result in a decrease in normal winter holiday giving. Last November, Give to the Max, in its 11th year, set a record of $21.6 million.

Blumberg said GiveMN is surveying donors to see how philanthropy could be impacted. "The need isn't going away any time soon," he added.

While foundations have quickly given out millions of dollars in emergency COVID-19 aid, individual giving also has increased during the outbreak. Donations on GiveMN's website more than quintupled in April compared with April 2019, similar to the giving rates the organization sees in December during the holidays.

Donors have given more than $8 million on the Give At Home website since early March. Organizations that received the most money during the eight-day campaign included Second Harvest Heartland, Springboard for the Arts, Save the Boundary Waters, the Food Group and People Serving People.

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141