Despite Website Glitch, GiveNOLA Day Brings In $4M For Local Nonprofits
NEW ORLEANS – Despite a technology failure that affected the shut-down of the GiveNOLA Day website for approximately ten hours within the 24-hour campaign, the giving day generated an astonishing $4 million for the 713 participating nonprofit organizations. The goal this year was $4.5 million.
“The fact that we came so close to the goal under such extraordinary circumstances is a testament to the generosity and perseverance of the local giving community,” said Albert Ruesga, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), host of GiveNOLA Day which was held from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3, 2016, said.
Ruesga was also quick to credit the nonprofits that responded immediately to the technology failure by redirecting their donors in creative ways after the GiveNOLA Day website started malfunctioning.
The New Orleans region was not alone in experiencing technology glitches. A total of 54 communities across the country, all part of a Give Local America campaign, experienced similar challenges. GNOF staff first noticed site issues around 9:00 a.m. on May 3. According to Kimbia, the Austin-based technology company that hosted the platform for the nationwide day of giving, the glitch was partly the result of an overwhelming volume of external sites pointing to and hitting their databases. The company said it has hired a third party consultant to conduct an audit and the findings will be shared publicly.
In response to the technology glitches, GNOF established a phone bank manned by Foundation staff, issued a paper pledge form to all nonprofits to share with their donors, and communicated that donations accepted on participating nonprofit websites would be eligible for special ‘Lagniappe’ or stretch dollars made possible by GiveNOLA Day sponsors. GNOF also worked with the technology provider to develop a temporary online giving form and hired a team of temporary workers to call donors who had made pledges.
“Of all the cities, New Orleans really made lemonade from lemons,” said Lori Finch, vice president of community services at Kimbia. “New Orleans was one of the very few cities that accepted pledges when donations couldn’t go through on the website.”
The total number of gifts, both online and offline, accepted for GiveNOLA Day was 28,000. Last year, the total number of gifts was 34,000.
Part of the excitement of GiveNOLA Day was the opportunity for nonprofits to compete for cash awards. While the results are not yet final and rankings may change, this year’s winners appear to be as follows:
• The five large nonprofits raising the most money, in first through fifth order: Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Louise S. McGehee School, Trinity Church, Benjamin Franklin High School, and Second Harvest Food Bank.
• The top five small nonprofits raising the largest amount of money, in first through fifth order: Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, Crime Stoppers of GNO, Trinity Christian Community, HeartGift Foundation, and SpayMart, Inc.
• The large nonprofits that had the largest number of unique donors, in first through fifth order: The Gleason Initiative Foundation, Louise S. McGehee School, WWNO, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Benjamin Franklin High School.
• The small nonprofits that had the largest number of unique donors, in first through fifth order: Healing Hearts for Community Development, Friends of City Park, Animal Rescue New Orleans and Jefferson SPCA (tied for third), and Youth Run NOLA.
*Note: Large nonprofits have operating budgets of a $1 million or more, while smaller nonprofits are those operating on less than $1 million. Results will not be finalized until reconciliation is complete.
Hourly drawings occurred normally before the technology glitches struck. Throw-Me-Something-Mister prizes, which rewarded nonprofits with the most unique donors within selected hours, were awarded to Crescent City Schools and Youth Run NOLA. The remaining two Throw-Me-Something-Mister prizes were cancelled and those dollars were added to the Lagniappe Fund, which at the start of the day was at $331,000. This Fund is distributed to participating nonprofits in proportion to the amount of money they raise.
Random drawings for the hourly Rock Around the Clock giveaways were completed, and the winners were: Bike Easy, Center for Ethical Living & Social Justice Renewal, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Friends of Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Geaux Create Family Art Center, Hollygrove Market & Farm, Japan Society of New Orleans, Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, LINCNewOrleans, Louis Satchmo Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp, Louisiana SPCA, Luke’s House: A Clinic for Healing and Hope, Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame, National Performance Network, Northshore Jewish Congregation, PLEASE Foundation, Ride of the Brotherhood, South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, SWANS Inc., The First 72+, unCommon Construction, and UNITY of Greater New Orleans.
In response to the technology glitch, the online platform provider Kimbia, reduced its fee from 2.99% to 1.99% per transaction. The Greater New Orleans Foundation will absorb the remaining 1.99% fee. The Greater New Orleans Foundation does not make any money on GiveNOLA Day. “All dollars raised on GiveNOLA Day go right back into the community. It’s our day to introduce donors to community needs,” said Ruesga.
Sponsors of GiveNOLA Day’s Lagniappe Fund were lead sponsors Entergy and Baptist Community Ministries. The supporting sponsors were Boh Brothers; Mike and Lynn Coatney Family Foundation Fund; Gillis, Ellis & Baker; Laitram; the Lemle Fund; and the Shell Beach Fund. Friend sponsors were Baldwin, Haspel, Burke & Mayer; Bellwether Technology; The Berger Company; Jones Walker; Postlethwaite & Netterville; Villere & Company; and Whole Foods. Partners were the Boettcher Fund; Diana and Sean Fisher; and the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.