After a 10-hour website glitch during Tuesday’s Give NOLA Day fundraising drive blocked online access for thousands of donors, would-be givers were forced to flood phone lines in an attempt to help their favorite nonprofit organizations.
It was still unclear Wednesday whether the problem, sparked by a technical problem at the national group that was processing donations from cities across the country during the 24-hour giving marathon, significantly reduced local nonprofits’ fundraising totals.
The total giving tally is likely higher than the $2.4 million announced on Give NOLA’s website Wednesday, as participating nonprofits have until Friday to send proof of all donations received on Tuesday.
Give NOLA Day, the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s 24-hour giving spree to benefit hundreds of local nonprofit groups, is affiliated with Give Local America, which is run by Kimbia, an online fundraising platform.
It was Kimbia that encountered the technical problems Tuesday, beginning about 9 a.m.
“We have let you down, the people we serve,” Kimbia said in a statement late Tuesday aimed at participating nonprofits and donors.
The problem 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.
In New Orleans, donors and nonprofits were frustrated when they began entering their credit card information onto Give NOLA’s website, only to get an error message.
“I may or may not have just participated in Give NOLA Day,” donor Carolyn Scofield commented on Twitter, showing a screenshot of the message she received.
Organizations soon began urging individuals to donate to them directly, and the Greater New Orleans Foundation urged donors to hit the phone lines.
Through it all, many donors were persistent, said officials at several nonprofits whose reported totals either exceeded or came close to their goals.
“I do know that we raised above $80,000,” said Cait Gladow of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans — which, with a 2015 total of $89,110, was the city’s third-biggest fundraiser during last year’s Give NOLA Day.
The website crash caused Gladow’s marketing team to have to adapt quickly, she said.
“I was borderline wanting to crawl under my desk yesterday, but then when my phone started ringing off the hook from people who wanted to give … that made it a lot better,” she said.
Still, she believes “the momentum was lost” for some younger donors, who were airing their frustrations on social media.
The federation typically holds a happy hour each Give NOLA Day and collects donations from younger donors on the spot. That event wasn’t as well attended this year, she said.
Officials were still getting calls Wednesday at Louise S. McGehee School, which was the city’s second-highest fundraiser last year, development director Elenore Falshaw said.
“As of right now, we are at about $126,000, about $10,000 short of what we got last year,” she said Wednesday.
She was hoping to get to $150,000 this year — “which, you never know, we might still do. We’ve got until Friday,” she said.
Indeed, many nonprofits continued their pleas for contributions well into the day Wednesday through email blasts and social media posts.
It likely will be weeks before the Greater New Orleans Foundation manually inputs and confirms the total number of gifts and amounts raised, said Gretchen Hirt, a spokeswoman. However, its “lagniappe fund” — which gives each participating nonprofit a share based on its percentage of the total dollars raised — raised $330,000 this year, she said.
As for whether the foundation will sign up through Kimbia again next year, Hirt said no decision on that point has been made.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.