Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Minnesota bests online giving records during Give to the Max Day

Nov. 15, 2013, 3:49 p.m., Posted by Polly M. Talen and Elizabeth R. Miller

Above: College Possible, the winner of GiveMN.org's 2013 Most Creative Give to the Max Fundraising Campaign Award.

Minnesotans continued a strong tradition of supporting their nonprofit community during the fifth annual “Give to the Max Day.” In fact, Thursday proved to be the most successful 24-hour giving day to date. Collectively, the community raised more than $17.1 million for more than 4,400 nonprofits across the state.

Some 52,000 individuals donated via the platform GiveMN.org, an online resource seeking to change the way Minnesotans donate to causes and help create a stronger nonprofit community. GiveMN.org uses Razoo’s platform (a customizable online giving and fundraising website) to help local and state nonprofits and schools reach new donors and reduce fundraising costs.

This year, the staff at GiveMN shined. Despite technical issues that shut down donations for four hours in the afternoon, folks soldiered on in true Minnesota fashion! Volunteers showed up, nonprofits were interviewed and The UpTake live-streamed performances. Donations flew in when the site came back up in the early evening.

More than ever, Minnesota’s nonprofits creatively encouraged their many potential supporters. Great graphics, clever plays on words, heartfelt stories and passionate reminders encouraged people to contribute. Other incentives included public leaderboards that promoted friendly competition. “Power Hour” prizes were awarded to organizations that concentrated giving within certain time windows. Matching grants were also available throughout the day. An interactive map also showed donations in real time.

For the first time, donors had the ability to schedule donations in advance. It meant that when nonprofits sent out notices in the days and weeks in advance of Give to the Max Day, they were able to encourage folks to take action right then and there—and not have to wait until Nov. 14.

GiveMN.org, often considered by philanthropy experts to be one of the most successful online giving days, is featured in Knight Foundation’s new Giving Day Playbook. The guide is chock-full of recommendations, checklists and templates to help make online giving campaigns manageable. It draws heavily on examples of community foundations.

GiveMN.org is a collaborative venture originally conceived and founded by the Minnesota Community Foundation. It has strong partner support from across the state including: the Blandin Foundation, Central Minnesota Community Foundation, Otto Bremer Foundation, the Greater Twin Cities United Way the F.R. Bigelow Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation. This year’s Give to the Max Day was also sponsored by Knight Foundation, Bush Foundation, Youthprise, Mosaic and others.

Last year, it raised more than $16 million and in 2011, 13.6 million.

By Polly M. Talen, St. Paul program director at Knight Foundation, and Elizabeth R. Miller, communications associate at Knight Foundation

Related links: “Competitiveness Helps Fuel Give to the Max Day”  in the Pioneer Press and “Minnesota Nonprofits Gear Up for Thursday” on MinnPost.com.