Hardware Glitch Slows Give Local America

May 4, 2016       Mark Hrywna      

Technical difficulties brought Give Local America to a screeching halt yesterday, forcing some communities to extend the 24-hour crowdfunding event for at least another day.

Give Local America kicked off at midnight Eastern time on Tuesday and was to run nonstop until today at midnight Pacific (3 a.m. Eastern). The first 10 hours went off without a relative hitch but by 2:45 p.m. (Eastern) yesterday, fundraising firm Kimbia recommended extending hours of the event. By 3:20 p.m., Kimbia announced that donation forms were processing but many users were still experiencing delays.

The Austin, Texas-based company had more than 13,000 nonprofits registered for Give Local America, a 45-percent increase compared to the 2015 event. The event raised $68 million for 9,000 nonprofits last year, and $53 million for 7,000 nonprofits in 2014. More than $15 million in matching funds already had been secured ahead of this year’s May 3 event.

In an update late Tuesday night, Kimbia said significant donation delays were caused by what appears to be a hardware issue. At approximately 10 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Kimbia began to see latency issues. “The root cause of the issue now appears to be a hardware issue on one of our hosted database nodes which caused a cascading effect, impacting our ability to deliver forms and process donations that was further exacerbated by new functionality related to leaderboards, prizes and mobile applications.”

At that point, Kimbia removed the affected hardware from service and reduced leaderboard functionality to focus solely on the ability to serve donation forms.

Despite weeks of high-volume testing leading up to Give Local America, the issue did not arise in the event’s first 10 hours. Kimbia reiterated that there has been no security breach and all transactions have and are still being securely processed.

“We’re obviously devastated here. We were looking for a bigger-than-ever event and are incredibly disappointed for our partners,” said Mary Anne Gunn, Kimbia’s vice president of marketing. Some $20 million was processed before difficulties began yesterday.

The firm will conduct a review to identify all contributing factors for Tuesday’s failures, she said. Gunn did not rule out that the company would waive processing fees, which some participating nonprofits suggested, but said she was not ready to communicate a percentage or impact to the program. “We’re still processing donations so totals will be delayed but rebates are a consideration,” Gunn said. Typically, a tally of funds raised is not completed until tomorrow, which obviously will be a delayed a couple of days, she added.

The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Day of Giving program, which raised more than $40 million in its six years of operation, suspended operation of its event. “We were on track in the first few hours to raise $1.5 million until the technical issues occurred,” foundation President and CEO Maxwell King said via a statement. “To resume that enthusiasm, we are committing to re-schedule another Day of Giving for the region, which includes Butler, Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. And we will provide an additional $100,000 in incentives to the $100,000 already in place for today’s event. We also want to assure all participants who were able to make donations today that they will be honored and apply to the incentive pool that has been in place,” according to the statement.

The Seattle Foundation extended its GiveBIG a full 24 hours. With a goal of $20 million, GiveBIG reported online giving of almost $11.6 million by 8 a.m. today. Last year, the Seattle Foundation raised the most of any community, $12.8 million, followed by the Pittsburgh Foundation at $5.7 million.