800 Nonprofits Share Almost $1 Million

April 1, 2013       Patrick Sullivan      

Arizona Gives Day, held for the first time on March 20, will put nearly $1 million into the coffers of roughly 800 nonprofits in the state. Despite falling short of its goals of 20,000 donors and $2 million, administrators consider the event a success.

The initiative generated $928,541 from 8,584 donors making 11,074 gifts.

“Our first goal was to really educate the general public about the role of nonprofits. We feel they’re an untold story,” said Marissa Theisen, president and CEO of the Phoenix, Ariz.-based Arizona Grantmakers Forum (AGF). AGF, along with the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits (AAN), also based in Phoenix, were the administrators of the 24-hour event.

“We had two statewide umbrella organizations, the funders organization and the nonprofit organization, coming together,” said Theisen. FirstBank, which had also sponsored Colorado Gives Day, held last year on December 4, was the event’s lead sponsor.

Theisen characterized the original goals as “ambitious,” and said her organization and AAN will conduct a “full debrief” to better determine what went right and what needs the most improvement for next time. Theisen said that Arizona’s nonprofit sector faced some unique challenges that may have kept the original goals out of reach.

“We’re a young state and not a generous state in terms of charitable giving,” she said. “Part of that is because people come here from elsewhere, and there’s not a lot of residents with deep roots. That makes it a challenge.” She also said that the time of year the event was held — other states, such as Minnesota and Colorado, held their give days around the holidays, when donors are already opening their wallets to nonprofits, according to Theisen — also could have been a factor.

Donations were processed by the social giving platform Razoo. All donations went to the Razoo Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., and will be regranted to the organization specified by the donor by April 10. The Razoo Foundation took 2.9 percent of each donation for processing fees, and another 2 percent of each donation was returned to AGF and AAN. Theisen said the two organizations’ cut would go toward administration costs for next year’s Arizona Gives Day, for which a date has not yet been set.

“Our hope was that this would be a self-sustaining effort, and we wouldn’t have to go to funders for as much administration support,” said Theisen.

About 800 nonprofits registered for Arizona Gives Day, exceeding the original goal of 500, said Theisen. Work began in November, she said, when AAN and AGF began running training sessions about the event, what it takes to enroll, and how to use social media as a means of fundraising. Most important, said Theisen, was bringing the sector together and showing the public and lawmakers that the state’s nonprofit organizations matter. “(The state’s nonprofit sector is) very fragmented, being as big as we are, and (Arizona Gives Day) created a sense of cohesion,” she said.