New Orleans nonprofits hauled in $4 million in recent online giving day _lowres

Photo provided by St. Tammany Parish government -- Give NOLA groups seek support -- Seven St. Tammany Parish nonprofits are asking for community support during GiveNOLA Day on May 6. Shown at a recent proclamation made by Parish President Pat Brister are, from left, Emily Lewis, community outreach specialist for Northshore Families Helping Families; Celeste Falconer, president of NAMI St. Tammany; Brister; Lindy Stonecypher, president of Children’s Advocacy Center Hope House and Kellie Chavez Greene, senior program officer, organizational effectiveness, Greater New Orleans Foundation; and back row, Sue Ellen Stewart, executive director for Northshore Families Helping Families; Jeff St. Romain, president/CEO for Habitat for Humanity St. Tammany West; Ralph O’Neal, chairman of St. Tammany SALT Council Inc.; Tracey Moseley, project coordinator for NAMI St. Tammany; and Reid Falconer, chairman of the St. Tammany Parish Council. Donations can be made from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. May 6, online at www.GiveNOLA.org or by calling (504) 598-4663. Donations over $10 will be eligible for Lagniappe Fund for the nonprofits.

New Orleans nonprofits raised $4 million during this year’s GiveNOLA campaign, despite a 10-hour website glitch that blocked online access for thousands of donors last month.

Officials released the final tally after they spent weeks calculating donations received by phone during and just after the technical failure.

The result was about the same amount as the 24-hour online giving event generated last year, but a half-million dollars less than the goal of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the organization that has hosted the event for the past three years.

“The fact that we came so close to the goal under such extraordinary circumstances is a testament to the generosity and perseverance of the local giving community,” foundation CEO Albert Ruesga said.

GiveNOLA Day, which benefits hundreds of local nonprofit groups, is affiliated with Give Local America, which is run by Kimbia, an Austin, Texas-based online fundraising platform. The idea is to spur donations by focusing the public’s attention on charities on a specific day.

Unfortunately, when that day — May 3 — arrived this year, Kimbia encountered technical problems beginning about 9 a.m.

The snafu was apparently caused by a “hardware issue” on one of Kimbia’s hosted databases, which affected its ability to deliver forms and process donations, officials said.

The glitch was at least partly the result of an overwhelming number of external sites using Kimbia’s databases, the company said later. Kimbia has hired a consultant to investigate the problem and promises to publicize the consultant’s findings.

The group also reduced the processing fee it charged, from nearly 3 percent of each donation to nearly 2 percent of each donation. The Greater New Orleans Foundation pledged to absorb the 2 percent, to further ease nonprofits’ burdens.

The glitch left many donors in New Orleans and in cities across the country unable to enter their credit card information onto affiliated websites. The problem forced organizations to think quickly, and many asked supporters to call and donate to them directly.

The foundation also accepted donations by phone. It spent weeks tallying 28,000 donations to 713 participating nonprofits, to come up with the final $4 million fundraising total.

Last year, the total number of donations was 34,000.

Though officials said that individual nonprofits’ fundraising totals are not final, the five biggest fundraisers among large organizations appear to have been, in order, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Louise S. McGehee School, Trinity Episcopal Church, Benjamin Franklin High School and Second Harvest Food Bank.

Ogden, McGehee and Trinity Episcopal also were the top three fundraisers among large organizations last year.

The top five fundraisers among small organizations were the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, CrimeStoppers of Greater New Orleans, Trinity Christian Community, the HeartGift Foundation and SpayMart Inc., in that order. The Jewish Federation and SpayMart were among the top three fundraisers in that category last year.

The foundation defines large nonprofits as those with operating budgets of $1 million or more and small nonprofits as those operating on less than $1 million.

Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.