Coming off a record-breaking Arizona Gives Day in 2019 that generated $3.6 million from donors statewide, expectations were sky high for the eighth annual Arizona Gives on April 7.
And then came COVID-19.
As the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, Arizona Grantmakers Forum and presenting sponsor FirstBank moved closer to Arizona Gives Day 2020, the state — and the country — struggled to cope with the pandemic’s impact. Workers faced job losses as businesses started closing; fundraising events and galas and arts and cultural seasons were cancelled; the stock market sank on the uncertainty; and governors across the nation debated stay-at-home orders.
No one could really figure how it all would affect people’s ability or willingness to donate to the 24-hour online fundraiser as they justifiably focused on paying their own bills.
“We maintained what we felt were reasonable outcome expectations, given the situation, and strategized ways to make the process and the experience even more beneficial for both donors and nonprofits,” said Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits CEO Kristen Merrifield. “In the end, everyone not only stepped up, but jumped in.”
The effort included re-opening registration for nonprofits that originally opted out of this year’s event, adding an Arizona Gives Day Emergency Relief Fund giving donors the option to increase donations as an add-on at checkout or through direct donation, and organizing a group of donors who provided funding to waive payment processing fees normally paid by participating nonprofits.
“When Arizona Gives Day launched this year, we couldn’t stop watching the tally board on the website, because it was exploding,” said Merrifield. “We are still overwhelmed by the astonishing response and generosity from the people of Arizona to support nonprofits doing such great work in every community in the state.”
The final numbers were, in a word, staggering: $6.1 million raised through 38,779 donations supporting 913 of the 983 registered nonprofits. At the same time, through Arizona Gives Day, 2,225 volunteers pledged 81,862 hours to Arizona nonprofits.
Participating nonprofits also received an even share of the Emergency Relief Fund dollars, and $193,500 in prize-pool money was awarded.
In total, Arizona Gives Day has generated more than $23 million over the past eight years “and no year was more critical than 2020 given the deep financial challenges so many nonprofits are facing,” Merrifield said. “On behalf of nonprofit organizations across Arizona, we are incredibly grateful for the widespread and selfless support.”