With several hours still to go in a 24-hour, joint fundraising drive for New Orleans nonprofits, the more than 300 organizations involved in the area’s first GiveNOLA Day had exceeded their goal of $1 million in donations by more than 50 percent.
More than 14,000 donors had participated in what organizers described as a friendly competition.
That participation rate, nearly three times what organizers had planned for, may stand as the most enduring success of the day, said officials with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, which organized the event.
“The number of donors is striking to us. We didn’t expect that at all,” GNOF President and CEO Albert Ruesga said.
“These are people that were moved to share their own money, which in some cases they don’t have in abundance,” he added.
Overall, the event had collected more than $1.5 million by 7 p.m. for nonprofits that provide a wide range of programs in the New Orleans area.
With the event scheduled to last until midnight, accompanied by various “happy hours,” parties, dancing and other activities all complete with “donation stations,” it was anyone’s guess how much would be raised by the deadline.
“We’d be delighted if we reach $1.7 million. We’re delighted that we’re at $1.3 million,” Ruesga had said earlier in the day. “It means that much more money going to these nonprofit organizations.”
With five hours still to go Tuesday evening, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art had a commanding lead in the race to raise the most money, having taken in almost $76,000 from more than 100 donors.
Team Gleason, the organization founded by former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, had an edge in the number of individual donors, having raised a total of more than $29,350 from 405 donors.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana was running second in both those contests, having raised more than $54,000 from almost 360 individuals.
The rankings, displayed on the GiveNOLA website at www.givenola.org and on an electronic board in Lafayette Square, are a key element of what organizers of the event termed the “gamification” of the donations as a way to get individual givers more involved in the process.
Throughout the day, GNOF staff members were comparing how different organizations were doing in the competition, and Ruesga said he hoped others throughout the city were showing similar interest.
Tracking how the organizations were doing wasn’t just fun and games, however. The nonprofits that top the charts for either the amount they raise or the number of individual donors are set to receive bonuses from a pool of money raised by GNOF.
In addition, GNOF planned to split a “Lagniappe Fund” of about $226,000 among all the nonprofits participating in the event, based on how much they raised during the day, and it held hourly drawings that provided an extra $1,000 to the winners.
A key question for the participating organizations is whether GiveNOLA Day ends up boosting their funding or simply consolidates giving that would have happened anyway into a single day. Ruesga said it is likely there will be an overall increase, based on the record of similar events in other cities.
“We know from the experience of other cities that have done this and have been doing this for years, there is a kind of net influx for all organizations that really participate in a meaningful way,” he said.
Pledging to hold more GiveNOLA Days in coming years, Ruesga also stressed that a key element of the event was connecting the donors to the nonprofits, something that makes the large number of donors who participated Tuesday all the more important.
“Today is part of the success, but really the success starts tomorrow, when these nonprofit organizations start cultivating relationships with those donors,” he said.