It's Give to the Max Day! That means 24 hours of online giving are underway -- just go to GiveMN.org to search for a group you'd like to support.
Donations to qualifying groups double on Give to the Max Day thanks to matching money from Minnesota corporations, families and foundations. This is the fourth year the non-profit community joined forces for the day of giving, and donations have been pouring in all day.
Launched in November 2009, GiveMN helps nonprofit organizations and schools reach new donors and increase giving through engaging campaigns while significantly reducing overall fundraising costs.
One such organization is Helping Paws. Organizers there admit that they didn't know what make of Give to the Max in the beginning, but now, it's a key part of their yearly fundraising efforts.
At an event they call 'Yappy Hour,' they invite members of the public inside to see how they train service guide dogs in Hopkins. The dogs are trained to turn on lights, open doors, and pick up objects -- like a dropped set of keys.
After two years of training, a dog like will be ready go help in a home.
"He has all the skills," said John Litch, a volunteer who helped train Jed. "His big problem is that he's such a social dog, such a people-oriented dog, that he gets so excited when people come to work with somebody else."
This year's goal is to raise enough money to train eight more dogs.
"We want to raise $75,000 today," said Pam Anderson. "That would train the entire litter. So, that would mean we would have eight dogs going to individuals in two and a half years from now, which is the gift of independence."
By mid-afternoon, Minnesotans had already donated more than $9 million to non-profits. At the donation headquarters at the Mall of America, organizers say matching dollars are driving a lot of the traffic.
"It's a thrill. The non-profits have actually found resources -- over $5.5 million in matching grants," said Dana Nelson.
Yet, Nelson points out that not all of the donations will be matched; however, those who want to make sure their dollars are doubled can go to GiveMN.org to look for the big green button that shows which donations will be matched.
One organization offering matching grants is College Possible, and volunteers surprised a donor at Dell Computers to tell him his donation would not only be matched dollar-for-dollar, but it would also help disadvantaged youths apply for college.
A partnership with U.S. Bank processes all donations at a discount and waives select card processing fees. Donations can be made through midnight.
Local school principals are riding the Pepsi rollercoaster at Mall of America all day Thursday to encourage Minnesotans to donate to schools. K-12 public schools are new to the list of qualified recipients this year.
Last year more than 47,000 people gave $13.5 million to more than 4,000 charities on Give to the Max Day, beating the previous year by $3.5 million.
Statement on behalf of GiveMN:
Thanks to the generosity of Minnesotans the GiveMN website is moving slowly this morning due to volume.
We are working hard to get the system back to a pace which can keep up with the tremendous outpouring of donations. We currently are seeing improvement within the system.
We appreciate the patience of donors who are doing so much to benefit non-profits and schools today and encourage them to try to make a donation again if they had difficulties.