A day after Give to the Max Day shattered records, raking in $20.1 million for schools and nonprofits despite seven hours of website woes, its executive director promised to hold its technology partner “fully accountable” for the online glitches.
“Our technology partner Kimbia is doing a deep dive on what went wrong on our platform,” said GiveMN Executive Director Jake Blumberg. “We have a high expectation that Kimbia will be very transparent telling us what went wrong so we can share with our community what went wrong.”
That said, Blumberg said, they were “excited to have another record-breaking year of generosity. More organizations than ever before received a gift on Give to the Max Day.”
The GiveMN.org website crashed around 8:15 a.m. and was down until 3:15 p.m. during the 24-hour online giving event. A bare-bones backup site processed $3.5 million in donations during that time but provided none of the information that encourages donations and makes the event fun to follow.
GiveMN, which oversees Give to the Max Day, contracted with Kimbia in 2014 to build and oversee the website. It faltered some that year, but confidence was restored last year when it ran smoothly, Blumberg said.
Kimbia, an online fundraising software provider based in Austin, Texas, experienced another high-profile blunder earlier this year. Its web platform crashed in May during Give Local America, a national online crowdfunding event with thousands of nonprofits.
In response, Kimbia CEO Daniel Gillett transferred three months of his salary to affected organizations and the company waived $370,000 in fees for its clients, according to news reports.
Officials with Kimbia did not respond to a request for comment.
Blumberg said he knew of Kimbia’s troubles before Thursday’s problems. Kimbia, he said, has “had an unfortunate year. We were given every assurance and we were under contract with them.”
Blumberg said that GiveMN shares culpability for the mishap: “We are responsible for vendor selection.” He said he couldn’t discuss the specifics of the Kimbia contract but vowed to “evaluate every aspect of what has gone on.”
Platform also crashed in Texas
Kimbia’s web platform crashed in May during the San Antonio Foundation’s 24-hour giving event called “The Big Give SA,” part of the Give Local America event. The event was extended several hours so the 1,000 participating nonprofits could reach $4.3 million.
As in Minnesota, frustration flared among donors and nonprofits. “It was really difficult when people want to give and you’ve spent the entire year getting people excited about that day,” said foundation spokeswoman Kate Edwards.
The foundation held listening sessions with nonprofits and created a volunteer team of IT professionals, who helped draft a 32-point checklist that any future technology vendor must meet or exceed.
Five technology companies bid for the 2017 Big Give, including Kimbia. The foundation chose to go with GiveGab Inc., based in Ithaca, N.Y.
“It was very difficult. It was a learning process,” Edwards said. She added that her “stomach sunk” when she learned about Give to the Max’s issues.
On Friday, Minnesota nonprofits were giving GiveMN mixed reviews.
Protect Minnesota sent out an exuberant e-mail after the nonprofit raised $20,000, double its goal.
“God bless you overachievers! It’s difficult for me to put in words how much this means to Protect Minnesota right now,” said the Rev. Nancy Nord Bence, the executive director.
The Animal Humane Society finished in the top five, raising $152,000 through GiveMN.org. But officials were questioning their future involvement with Give to the Max.
“It was definitely incredibly frustrating. Luckily we prepared for it based on past experiences, ”said Nicole Stern, the humane society’s philanthropy director.
When GiveMN.org faltered, Stern’s team used e-mail blasts and social media to redirect donors to the humane society’s private giving portal, which brought in $50,000 Thursday.
“GiveMN is going to have to do a lot of work and they are really going to have to prove to the nonprofit community that we can trust them again,” Stern said.