36-Hour Giving Challenge surpasses 2012 fundraising

vmannix@bradenton.comMarch 7, 2013 

MANATEE -- Feeding Empty Little Tummies, Inc., had received $1,525 as the 36-Hour Giving Challenge wound down Wednesday afternoon and Jane Evers was thankful.

"Do you know how many quarts of milk that will buy?" said the founder of F.E.L.T.'s that feeds homeless schoolchildren on weekends.

Tallevast Community Association, Inc., which gives academic support and life skills to youth, had received $1,100, and Eddie Paramore was glad.

"It's still a blessing," the executive director said. "We're grateful for any gift we receive."

So were Ashley Brown at Women's Resource Center of Manatee, Inc.

Scott Dell at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, Inc., too.

And Kristen Theisen with Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee, Inc.

Yet as the second annual communitywide fundraiser broke the $2 million mark in direct donations Wednesday and was projected for $2.7 million with matching gifts

-- $2.4 million was raised in 2012 -- the local nonprofit officers expressed reservations about the campaign's timing.

The challenge coincides with their own organization fundraising season.

"It's a great tool, we've done well and I'm happy about that, but I think there's some exhaustion this year," said Brown, whose organization had received $12,426 by Wednesday evening. "It's at the time of year we all have events and we have to maintain a balance between keeping donors engaged and not begging every day. We have to be sensitive to donors."

Susie Bowie with the Community Foundation of Sarasota said this is the optimum time for the challenge.

"This is when the most people are in town," she said. "This event helps organizations cast a wider net. It's a chance to reach out and get new folks involved in their mission."

Scott Dell had mixed emotions, though the AMICC received $13,975 by Wednesday evening.

"We're grateful to those who have contributed and it all helps," the center's interim director said. "But we're in the middle of our own (fundraising) season, so you can't keep hitting up people all the time. March is busy for us."

Ditto for Meals on Wheels Plus, Inc., which received $10,115 by Wednesday evening. That pleased development director Kristen Theisen, who wished they could've been able to do more.

"Some nonprofits did videos for the challenge, which I loved, but we just didn't have time," she said. "It's not that we don't know the event is coming. We do, but we're already in the middle of planning on our core events."

As the challenge's 7 p.m. closing drew near, Bradenton Christian School remained in fifth place with $49,610 with a shot at matching grants up to $20,000.

It already received an additional $1,000 grant as did Young Life of Manatee ($30,070), Manatee Players ($22,837) and St. Joseph Catholic School ($20,675). It may take a few days for final totals for all organizations to be tallied, organizers said.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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