Twenty-four hours of fundraising produced a feeling of satisfaction — and perhaps a little weariness — among those with a stake in Tuesday’s Give Local Piedmont online fundraising campaign to benefit nonprofits in Rappahannock, Madison, Culpeper and Fauquier counties.
By the time the clock struck midnight, supporters had made 3,369 gifts totalling an extraordinary $675,069.27. (That total includes the Fauquier Health Foundation’s pledge to match up to $100,000 in individual donations.)
Prizes were awarded as the donations to the more than 100 organizations mounted: Fauquier Free Clinic, which also serves Rappahannock County, was a grand-prize winner for having the most unique donations. Highland School in Warrenton won a grand prize for raising the most money — $73,425 from 106 gifts.
Rounding out the top five were Fresta Valley Christian School ($63,346 from 110 gifts), Fauquier Free Clinic ($37,299 from 244 gifts), State Theatre Foundation ($27,206 from 47 gifts) and Rappahannock’s Castleton Festival ($23,815 from 41 gifts).
The day’s total figure and amounts will be verified and declared final on June 15.
The Northern Piedmont Community Foundation (NPCF) mounted the drive, and Culpeper’s State Theatre was the base of operations for executive director Cole Johnson and staff. Donors could also visit the theatre to contribute in person; Johnson said about $40,000 was collected there.
“We raised more money than any other community foundation in the state of Virginia,” she said, “and we have the smallest geographic area. What it showed is that we are a community that is able to get through all the light and noise of everything in our lives and feel it’s important to go online and give.”
Some donors gave to more than one organization, she added.
The day of giving proceeded well, Johnson said. “It was amazing how little trouble there was,” she said, crediting Kimbia Inc., the tech company that provided the website and support, and project director Tanya Paul. “I was kind of the window dressing,” Johnson joked.
She said the success of the first online campaign on this scale shows “how to reach out to nonprofits in an effective manner.”
Emily Frost, development coordinator for Wakefield County Day School, a private school in Flint Hill, was keeping tabs on the mounting donations throughout the day Tuesday.
“We’re just grateful for what’s been given so far and what we might be given,” Frost added.
Wakefield was using social media, its website and emails to supporters in the days to motivate potential donors. Curiosity was driving many at WCDS to check the tallies on the Give Local Piedmont website, as they “poked their head into the office to ask ‘how are we doing?” Frost said. “It’s like watching a telethon.”
“We were just thrilled with the whole concept, setting aside a day for people to give to nonprofits,” said Jane Bowling-Wilson, director of Headwaters, an organization that promotes educational excellence in Rappahannock County. “We seem to have an abundance of nonprofits here and we’re just grateful to the folks who give.”
Bowling-Wilson said she thought the $10 minimum donation offered encouragement for donors of limited means to get involved. “My student intern can give $10. It’s a way to pull in more people and it makes it doable,” she added.
She noticed that $8,000 had been given to Headwaters by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday “and that’s just thrilling.” The organization ended up with $9,685 from 51 gifts. The money raised will help fund the organization’s mini-grants and after-school programs, she said.
The folks at the Castleton Festival were closely watching Give Local Piedmont unfold as well. Catherine Dehoney, executive director for development, gave a shout out to Johnson for her work in pulling off the day of online giving.
“I really tip my hat to Cole for making it happen,” Dehoney said.
Castleton sent out email blasts and provided a link on its own website to the Give Local Piedmont site. Maestro Lorin Maazel sent out tweets to call attention to the online campaign. The funds raised will be used to help support the young artists in training at Castleton and will also help fund a school outreach program.
Rappahannock Legal Services, which provides legal aid to the poor in Rappahannock, Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange and Madison counties, needs to hire another lawyer for its Culpeper office and the money raised will help make that possible, said Grace McCormick, development director.
“We turn away two out of three eligible applicants” for legal assistance because there is just one attorney and a staff member in Culpeper, she said.
She had been following the progress of the fundraising drive “obsessively since midnight. I forced myself to go to sleep for three to four hours. We’re thrilled to have their support today and to have taken time out in their lives to give. That equals dedication . . . Today makes a real dent in our annual giving effort.”
Matthew Black, Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community’s board president, said “it was exciting to watch it online in real time. I think it’s really remarkable that nearly $700,000 was raised. I’m really impressed by that. More locally, in Rappahannock, I’m thrilled there were so many people giving to so many organizations.”
The $5,290 given to RAAC on Tuesday will help fund grants to arts groups, he said.
“It shows that there is an understanding that we all have to contribute to make the county a better place,” he added.