Give to the Max, Minnesota’s one-day online giving marathon, shattered last year’s record-setting $20.1 million total. Donations were climbing past $20.6 million late Thursday, with money still pouring in as the midnight deadline passed.
Unlike in past years, the day went seamlessly with the GiveMN.org website processing thousands of donations and updating leaderboards.
Individual nonprofits including last year’s top finisher Second Harvest Heartland food shelf rallied donors through social media and with live, hands-on events.
Second Harvest hosted a Pack to the Max event at its Golden Valley warehouse. On Thursday morning volunteers paused in their work to clap and cheer when it was announced they had taken over the top of the donation leaderboard.
Volunteer Cecilia Johnson said Give to the Max Day “just has a special energy to it” as she weighed out dried rice and sealed it into plastic bags.
“It seemed like a really fun way to connect with co-workers and to do something good for the community,” said Johnson, who volunteered alongside her colleagues at Minnesota Public Radio.
Give to the Max’s five staffers had been working around the clock all week to ensure a smooth experience for thousands of donors, registered nonprofits and schools, said Jake Blumberg, executive director of the nonprofit that runs the online fundraiser.
“It just really is an incredible celebration of generosity for our ninth year in a row,” Blumberg said. “We are thrilled to really shine a light on those organizations. This is a great opportunity for organizations. Donors are really paying attention and are excited about giving today.”
This year seemed to restore confidence in the annual day of giving after several years of technical glitches had frustrated donors and participating nonprofits.
“So far, so good. It’s been a great Give to the Max Day,” said Zach Nugent, spokesman for the Animal Humane Society, which was at No. 8 on the leaderboard as the deadline approached Thursday and usually finishes in the top 10.
Frustrated with past tech problems, the Humane Society took a two-pronged approach this year — ramping up its marketing and fundraising independently earlier this month and then participating in Give to the Max Thursday.
“We are seeing the best of both worlds,” Nugent said. “It’s felt a lot less stressful.”
Since its inaugural event in 2009, Give to the Max Day has raised more than $150 million for more than 10,000 Minnesota-based causes. It currently charges a 6.9 percent transaction fee.
Up-to-the-minute totals, leaderboards and $120,000 in prizes for participating nonprofits added an element of competition to the day.
Other charities atop the leaderboard on Thursday evening included Augsburg University; Feed My Starving Children; Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota; Secondhand Hounds; and Salvation Army Northern Division.