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?
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 GiveMN.org 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?
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.
"Have your donation matched" was not a true statement. It just wasn't.
In both literal and generally recognized uses of the word, "match" means "match." Duplication. It doesn't mean four cents on the dollar. If it's something less than than 1:1, it is a "partial match." The website should have made that unmistakably clear right up front -- especially after the $500,000 threshold was met very early in the day. Yet, as the reporter says, it didn't -- that info remained relegated to the fine print.
The misunderstanding of this process in emails, conversations and news reports wasn't "small," It was everywhere. Of course the final giving totals reflect that.
We were planning to donate what we did anyway. I'm glad people were so generous and that the transaction fees were covered. The money will do great good. But yep -- bad taste after this one. Next time, I'm writing a check.
I tried to use the GiveMN website yesterday but it would not accept the security code on my Visa card. I donated at the same time to one of charities I was trying to give to on their own website and had no problem but with multiple tries, with different recipient charities, the website would not accept my credit card. And I know it was only the security code which was the problem, according to the error message I received.
Disappointing. Glad others were able to donate.
I do understand the confusion, but honestly, if some people choose not to read beyond the header at the top of a page, that's their decision. The moment I saw the first promotion for GiveMN's funding day, the first thought that jumped into my head was, "Huh. Gifts to be matched up to $500K. I wonder what happens if they get more than $500K in donations?"
So I kept reading. And the answer - clear, succinct, and precise - was right there to be read. It wasn't hard to find, it wasn't hidden, and it was most definitely not in some hard-to-read tiny font. If some people's definition of "fine print" is truly "anything other than the banner headline," then that's their problem, not GiveMN's.
Bottom line: I can't believe so many people are complaining about a newly launched organization that exists solely to help others and that just managed to raise $14m in a day.
Yes there is fine print - and news reports went into the details, too.
But the web site still says in large print:
"All donations made on November 17 are matched."
No asterisk follows that. Also, the individual solicitations I received from charities touted the matching funds but did not go into details.
I wish I had more info about the fees. I realize I didn't have to pay a fee, but somebody did.
The total amount raised showed amazing generosity. Could it have been that all the year end giving just happened on one day? I made usual my year end contributions for my favorite charities using the site yesterday.
Yes, Sam, it was hidden. There was a link underneath the words "matched," but it didn't say "see how we calculate match," or was there an asterisk on the word "match." In fact there was nothing on the front page that said anything about explaining how the matching would work. Nor was there anything on the front page that said matching was limited to $500,000.
What it said was "your donation will be matched." What it said was "get an update on donations."
It took three scrolls to get to the bottom of the front page, plenty of room for something -- anything -- to indicate the restrictions on funding.
Also, when you went to the page that explained the fine print, it was indeed fine print. It was at the bottom of the page.
Sure, once you got there, you could figure it out. But many organizations send out Tweets that said things like "Give $10 and it turns into $20." with the match. Absolutely not true, $10 turned into $10.02.
Ms. Nelson's insisting that "That's a true statement" on the front page is disingenuous. Yes, it's matched, but it's matched 2 cents on the dollar.
That's not far removed from selling a product bathed in pink and creating the impression that your product substantially funds breast cancer research, only to find out it doesn't or -- at best -- is misleading (See "Think Before You Pink")
Was Nelson's heart in the right place? I would certainly so. But the proper response to the question should be, "Yeah, we should've made more clear on the front page - at least late in the day -- that by "match" we mean a couple of pennies."
Marianne is to be congratulated for her dogged interest in transparency. It's interesting to note tha many of the other news organizations declined to do so. They were busy sending out messages that "all of your donations will be matched."
By the way, I'm "matching" the entire amount donated to GIVEMN yesterday. Here's a penny.
Bob, it's possible that the site was changed during the actual fundraising day, and the information was harder to get to. I admit I didn't look for it yesterday, since I'd already gone to the site earlier in the week looking for clarification on the distribution of the $500K, so that I could decide whether this was something I wanted to participate in. When I went to the GiveMN site (Monday, I believe it was,) the information I needed was practically staring me in the face.
I'm not suggesting that Marianne is wrong to be asking these questions, or that GiveMN couldn't have handled it better. I'm just sort of incredulous at the vitriol that's been coming from some commenters here and elsewhere, as if GiveMN were running some sort of scam.
We'll have time to sort out what this amazing showing of generosity means. is it a measure of end of the year giving that would have happened otherwise? Probably not to a great degree. I'm waiting for the end of the year solicitations that begin with "if you didn't have a chance to participate in givemn.org . . ." Is it the result of deceptive marketing about the match? I doubt that accounts for much of the giving, but I'm sure the messages will be more clear next time around. Personally I gave knowing full well the match would be proportional to the total. But still, yes the wording has to be better next time.
And let's encourage the foundations to increase their match, to show the kind of generosity individual donors showed on 11/17/09.
But let's not let our valuable observations about what could have been done better diminish our appreciation and excitement about giving 14 million dollars to Minnesota nonprofits in one day! Way to go Minnesota.
I can't help feeling like there are sour grapes here because so much money was raised in one day, and MPR wasn't the recipient. I'd love it if Marianne or Bob would 'investigate' just how it is that MPR just barely makes it's goal every pledge drive (what are there- 5 per year now?) I'd LOVE to know where the "Member's Matching Fund" money comes from. That always seems suspect to me.
I understood from the start that the pool of money from the foundations totaled $500,000. From there it's not rocket science to figure out that $13,000,000+ wouldn't be matched one-to-one.
I think you're trying to make a mountain out of a mole-hill here and it's not becoming.
Trudy, while I agree that this is a bit of a mountain/molehill situation, I don't think sour grapes is accurate. MPR was very definitely one of the organizations that was part of GiveMN's campaign, and I believe that Marianne was quite upfront about that in an earlier post. I think they actually finished in the top ten as ranked by number of donors...
Sam you're correct - MPR did participate in Give to the Max Day, and the company finished in 8th place. I'll post the dollar totals MPR earned as soon as that information is made public tomorrow morning.
For me, at the heart of my reporting and my questions, is the belief that any new endeavor that affects so many people and involves so much money must be looked at closely and thoroughly. That remains true whether it's a for-profit or a non-profit organization.
GiveMN Executive Director Dana Nelson and Razoo CEO Sebastian Traeger both said that this is a bold experiment, something which has never been attempted at this scale. If this really does mark a significant shift in how non-profits will receive their donations in the years to come, then we owe it to those non-profits and their donors to make sure it's the right tool for the job.
Why wasn't there even one other news agency asking tough questions about Give to the Max Day? Millions of dollars raised within hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars of fees, three middlemen, and thousands of kind-hearted MN donors involved - doesn't this scenario beg at least someone asking tough questions?
Thanks, Marianne, for being a watchdog for Minnesota donors and non-profits alike!
I would anticipate no less from MPR than for it to be among the organizations taking part on the 17th. What I am saying is that, in the main, this was a good thing for many organizations. What does it say when the most strident voice criticizing this represents one of the largest money generating machines in non-profit-dom, namely MPR?
This isn't an anti-Marianne commentary. I don't think MPR recognizes the tenor of the feeling out there in regard to their own (for lack of a better phrase) money-grubbing. I just think it's poor form I guess.
This is anecdotal, but I gave to several organizations on Tuesday that I haven't ever given to, mostly because I could give small amounts ($10-$20) and not be hounded by their fund raising departments for the rest of my life- which unfortunately often happens. I think non-profits fail to recognize this element as one of the biggest deterrents to people giving (the being added to the mailing list, I mean, not the small $$ amount.)
I don't make a lot of money, and I really resent someone on the aforementioned radio station telling me that if I simply forego my latté, I could give that money to them. I don't even drink coffee, and I make my cuppa' tea at home. Granted, this is unrelated to GiveMN, but I think MPR needs to pay a little more attention to how they sound to 'the other guys', whether that is the community of humble listeners or the community of other non-profit organizations. This is another instance of their hubris.
I, for one, applaud all the individual people who stepped up as part of this grand experiment, especially the foundations offering up the half-mil. to get the ball rolling.
You last post here is a good one. But givemn.org does provide organizations with a list of people who made gifts. Just so you know, you're likely to get hounded by the fundraising departments of those organizations.
I would encourage you to call or email the organizations and let them know you do not want to be contacted. I am a professional development officer and run a large sophisticated program. If someone asks that we not solicit them we certainly respect that information. Frankly we would rather know than not. It save us time, postage and effort since we attempt to contact every donor prospect ever fiscal year either with a personal call or face to face visit.