GiveMN: a look at the preliminary numbers

At 8am this morning, GiveMN's "Give to the Max Day" came to a close. The ticker on the site has now stopped surging forward.

The totals? $13,045,154 were given to 3,111 non-profits (Update: later today GiveMN revised that number to $14 million to 3,141 non-profits). A couple of pretty stunning numbers, don't you think? The three non-profits that received the most contributions (but not necessarily the most money) were Second Harvest Heartland, College of Saint Benedict and Twin Cities Public Television. They will receive awards of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000, respectively.

I spoke with GiveMN executive director Dana Nelson shortly after 8am to get her take on how the day went. In short, Nelson says she is emotionally overwhelmed at the generosity of Minesotans. She says today will be spent verifying the totals. Tomorrow GiveMN will publish all the detailed results, i.e. how much each non-profit raised, and how much of the $500,000 match they will get (if my math is correct, non-profits will receive about 3.8 cents on the dollar).

I also asked her to respond to some questions that I have seen popping up both here on the blog and in my in-box. First question - does Nelson think people would have been as generous if they had a clearer understanding of the giving guidelines?

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I think ultimately a small portion of the communications were inaccurate. We, my team, we were doing a full court press with all of our outreach partners .... Everyone in the sector was working as hard as possible to make sure that people had correct information and wouldn't have a bad taste in their mouth a day after. The whole purpose of the matching funds was to inspire giving and gosh it worked.

You say you were working hard to make sure people had the correct information, but the home page of continued to say "have your donation matched" until late yesterday evening. Why?

That's a true statement - every donation that went through in the 24 hours - a portion will receive a match. Bush Foundation's Scott Cooper said it really well when he said that ironically it was Minnesota's generosity that caused the match to go down. And in the end I think inspiring a huge dollar amount in the hands of our non-profit sector is ultimately a very very successful result of the day.

Who gets access to the data of all these donors?

The privacy policy is listed on the site but it is one of utmost respect for donor information. So no one at GiveMN sees it, no one at our foundation partners, either. It's a huge key to our being successful that we do not solicit to the donors. The relationship is between the organization and the donor, and that's it.

How is Razoo (the server provider, and a for-profit entity) paid?

Razoo is paid an annual contracted amount by GiveMN. That money comes from our funding partners. Razoo does not take a commission or get paid more based on activity on the site.

The more than $13 million raised translates to more than $600,000 in transaction fees. Who is paying those fees?

Again, that money comes from our funding partners. And it should be made clear, that's $600,000 that would have come from the non-profits, but now it's covered by the GiveMN site. The money goes to Network for Good, a non-profit that handles the transactions.

What have you learned in the course of "Give to the Max Day?"

Lessons learned - gosh, I mean I knew it, but it certainly confirmed the generosity of Minnesotans. When you ask folks to step up, we sure are a caring people and it's really really wonderful.

In the coming days I'll be looking more closely at the strategies behind the real success stories and how to be an effective fundraiser going forward. Ultimately will we be effective in changing people's behavior(i.e. moving people from writing a check to going online because it makes sense for the non-profit financially and is more efficient)? Quite honestly If we're not of value to the sector we shouldn't exist, and we'll continue to make decisions based on that belief.

As for me, today I'll be talking with non-profits that participated in "Give to the Max Day," and see how it went for them. I'll be asking how this could affect end-of-year giving, or whether it will take the place of a year-end campaign for some organizations. And how helpful was GiveMN at directing new donors to non-profits?

Tomorrow, once the final numbers are published, I'll take a closer look at who benefitted the most, and how smaller organizations fared compared to the big-hitters.