MERRILLVILLE | With a few quick computer clicks, hundreds of people around Northwest Indiana raised money Wednesday to support 100 local nonprofit organizations.
The 24-hour NWIgives online donation blitz began at midnight Wednesday and continued until 11:59 p.m. and was hosted on the www.razoo.com platform.
Over the lunch hour Wednesday, event organizers and nonprofit leaders gathered in the Legacy Foundation offices in Merrillville, watching the donations climb past the $100,000 mark.
Kris Falzone, project coordinator for NWIgives, said she was checking the donation website at midnight when the project began, and has been making regular checks to watch the donation total rise.
She has also been using social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as email to promote the event to potential donors.
“We knew this idea had worked in other areas, and knew it would be a new tool in the fundraising toolkit for the nonprofit groups,” she said.
“Social media is helpful in building awareness, and the nonprofits have been encouraged to use it to get the word out to their donors.”
The event, organized by Lake Area United Way and Legacy Foundation, benefits Northwest Indiana’s nonprofit organizations based in Lake, Porter and La Porte counties.
Pamela Lowe had participated in a similar online giving event in Minnesota before she moved to Indiana a few years ago and suggesting it could work here as well.
NWIgives is designed to promote philanthropy by energizing existing donors and creating new ones, said Jeremy Miller, chief operating officer of Lake Area United Way.
Halfway through the event, Miller said he was happy with how it was going.
“I’m pleased with the results, to be $100,000 in by noon,” he said. “Hopefully we will be at $300,000 by the end of the day.”
Donors could contribute to about 100 organizations including women’s shelters, food banks, arts organizations and school organizations.
Corporate sponsors including Centier Bank and NIPSCO sponsored “power hours” and “golden tickets,” where organizations who raised the most money during a specific time frame were rewarded with prize money. At the end of the event, three winners in each size category were also awarded prize money.
Megan Sikes, communication and advocacy manager for Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, said she had been anxiously watching the donation total for her organization climb.
By lunch time, it had exceeded $1,500, and she was hopeful it would pass $3,000 by the end of the day.
The organization also raised the most money during a “power hour,” and received a $1,000 bonus.
The group primarily relies on direct mail and their own fundraising events to raise money.
Sikes said she was using Facebook and email to encourage donors to participate in NWIgives.
“It’s a great way for people to get involved, and raise awareness for different philanthropies,” she said. “Donations can be big or small, it’s just important to get involved with the nonprofits.”