Day of national giving aims to raise $100 million for grassroots organizations

By Jill Warren Lucas 

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There’s not much left to May, but a group of philanthropists and technology experts already have their sights set on May 2014. On a day to be announced, charitable organizations across the U.S. will collaborate for Give Local America!, an event organizers hope will transform grassroots philanthropy forever.

“It will be a national day of giving with local community impact,” says Dan Gillett, CEO of Kimbia, a company that provides multi-platform fundraising services to nonprofits. “Our expectation is that it will be at least a $100 million event, which will make it far and away the largest single day giving event in history.” Dan Gillett

Kimbia is partnering with Community Foundations across America with the goal of creating a more even playing field for nonprofits that make a difference in the local communities, but which lack the resources to mount major giving campaigns. By registering through pages sponsored by statewide or regional foundations, local charities can take advantage of free, high-tech online giving resources they might otherwise not have been able to afford.

In Massachusetts, for example, nonprofits may register through a link sponsored by The Boston Foundation. The foundation is covering the fees for Kimbia website use and related marketing support. Kimbia also applies a transaction fee to all funds raised.

A portion of these fees will return to participating nonprofits that qualify for national match funding, real-time leaderboard competitions and other promotional activities, which may bump giving totals. Gillett says more than 35 state and regional Community Foundations have signed on so far. The North Carolina Community Foundation is evaluating the program, which does not require a commitment until late fall.

Gillett sees the campaign as a way to provide high visibility to local nonprofits that could use support “to build their brand in the community.”

“These are groups that play a critical role in their communities, but it’s often the case that local people don’t know what they do,” he says. “It’s a chance for them to use a national campaign to create a very high awareness of the services they provide on the local level.”

Kimbia provides online fundraising resources for a number of major clients, including the American Heart Association’s Wear Red Day campaign and WGBH, a National Public Broadcasting affiliate in Boston. What makes Give Local America! different is the push to promote potentially hundreds of grassroots organizations under a single banner.

“About 20-25 percent of the donors that participate will be new donors,” Gillett says. “Events like this create a groundswell, an enthusiasm, that people want to become part of. Nonprofits can increase their donor list by 20 percent in a single day.”

Gillett says Give Local America! has little in common with #GivingTuesday, a crowd-sourcing initiative launched last November that aims to capitalize on holiday goodwill.

“I think there’s plenty of room for both,” he says. “I don’t see them as competitive. One of the reasons we scheduled Give Local America! To May was to not compete with end of year giving campaigns or anything else. We wanted to make sure there was plenty of room for everyone to succeed.”

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