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Valley Gives fundraising hits $2 million target, doubling amount raised last year



Friday, December 13, 2013
NORTHAMPTON — The second annual Valley Gives event Thursday met its goal of raising $2 million in 24 hours for nonprofits in the region — double the amount raised in 2012.

In all, the e-philanthropy drive, sponsored by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, took in $2.012 million, representing 20,640 donations collected online for 351 nonprofits.

Fundraising at www.valleygivesday.org went down to the wire, said Kristin Leutz, the foundation’s vice president of philanthropic services. About an hour before the giving deadline of midnight Thursday, the total was still about $250,000 short of the target.

“We got about 400 new donors in the last hour,” Leutz said. “It was really neighbors reaching out to neighbors.”

Even more important than reaching the fundraising goal is what those donations mean to area nonprofits, Leutz said. “On Facebook and Twitter, nonprofits are already talking about the impact that money is having,” she added.

A quick survey Friday of some of the organizations participating in Valley Gives revealed some examples.

The Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, for instance, will use the nearly $70,000 raised during Valley Gives to expands its work to find homes for abandoned animals through its adoption centers in Springfield and Leverett.

Counting prize money it was awarded for bringing in the most donations and the most donors of the larger nonprofits participating, Dakin raised nearly $90,000 through Thursday’s online drive — a significant portion of its $3 million operating budget, according to staff.

Executive Director Leslie Harris said the more than 700 donations Dakin received through Valley Gives is an encouraging sign.

For the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the $61,682 raised through Valley Gives adds up to 211,000 meals provided through the area’s emergency food network, said Megan Pete, the organization’s director of development and marketing. The Food Bank was ranked second among large nonprofits for the most money raised through Valley Gives this year.

Pete said online fundraising drive offers a way for nonprofits to publicize their missions.

“It gives everyone a platform to demonstrate the need,” she said.

Monica Green, development director for The Kestrel Land Trust in Amherst, expressed similar sentiments.

“It’s a great way of publicizing the work that goes on behind the scenes,” Green said. “It’s exciting to have everyone focusing on giving and generosity for a day.”

The $32,000 in donations and prize money the Land Trust raised will support a new grant-funded effort to preserve 1,000 acres of land on the Mount Tom and Mount Holyoke ranges. “It puts us in a strong position as we undertake that effort,” Green said.

The Cancer Connection met a $10,000 matching grant challenge from an anonymous donor, allowing it to raise just shy of $16,000, said Executive Director Betsy Neisner,to launch a new support group about healthy living for cancer survivors and reduce wait lists.

“The whole community benefits from Valley Gives,” she said. “There’s just a general electrical charge that goes through the community to support nonprofits. It’s amazing to be part of that.”