By noon Tuesday, the Manatee Community Foundation offices were so filled with orange, green and yellow balloons that it seemed like they might just float off the foundation.
The decorations were put up for a historic party, the first-ever Giving Challenge kickoff hosted in Manatee County, said Susie Bowie, executive director of the Manatee Community Foundation.
Not only did the Manatee Community Foundation “balloon-up” for its landmark party to honor the 2016 Giving Challenge, but it will remain open for 24 hours straight through noon Wednesday. People with insomnia were encouraged to sleepwalk over in their pj’s in the wee hours for coffee, Bowie said.
The Giving Challenge, which started at noon Tuesday, is the frenzied, annual, 24-hour on-line donation event started four years ago by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to benefit nonprofit organizations in four counties — Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto.
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By 9:15 p.m., just a little more than nine hours into the effort, 39,553 donations were received totaling $3,737,214, according to the Giving Challenge website.
The top earning organization at 9:15 p.m. was the International Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation Inc. based in Sarasota, which pulled in $62,140 from just 34 donations, McCaw said.
Last year the Challenge pulled in a record $7 million from 36,417 individual donors who helped 449 non-profits.
This year approximately 559 nonprofit organizations in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties will benefit.
Anyone who wishes to give during the Challenge can make a secure donation (minimum gift is $25) by debit or credit card at givingpartnerchallenge.org. before noon Wednesday.
Top 10 in the Challenge
As of about 9:15 p.m., Tuesday the top 10 number of donations in the Challenge were racked up by:
1. The International Waldenstroms Macroglobulinemia Foundation with 586 gifts totaling $65,176.
2. Roskamp Institute Inc. with 48 gifts totaling $64,490.
3. Cat Depot with 669 gifts totaling $50,893.
4. All Faiths Food Bank Inc. with 450 gifts totaling $50,495.
5. New College Foundation with 383 gifts totaling $45,243.
6. American Cancer Society Inc. with 618 gifts totaling $44,070.
7. The Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation with 484 gifts totaling $43,741.
8. Agape Flights Inc. with 289 gifts totaling $41,349.
9. Saint Stephen's Episcopal School with 352 gifts totaling $40,008.
10. The Classical Academy of Sarasota Inc. with 368 gifts totaling $34,011.
As of 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, some Manatee County nonprofit tallies were as follows:
Wildlife Inc. of Bradenton Beach had 139 gifts totaling $10,350.
Visible Men Academy had 116 gifts adding to $16,165.
We Care Manatee had 23 gifts totaling $2,475.
Turning Points had 155 gifts totaling $17,801.
Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida had 119 gifts totaling $10,985.
Suncoast Community Capital had 33 gifts totaling $2,900.
Stillpoint House of Prayer had 103 gifts totaling $11,563.
Meals on Wheels PLUS had 104 gifts totaling $10,965.
Manatee County Audubon Society had 47 gifts totaling $3,735.
ArtCenter Manatee had 197 gifts totaling $12,891.
The Manatee Players had 179 gifts totaling $18,490
Humane Society of Manatee County had 229 gifts totaling $15,660
South Florida Museum had 212 gifts totaling $9,860
Take Stock in Children had 92 gifts totaling $12,515.
Southeastern Guide Dogs had 167 gifts totaling $25,033.
Manatee County Habitat for Humanity had 88 gifts totaling $7,920.
United Way of Manatee County had 60 gifts totaling $5,385.
The latest results are at givingpartnerchallenge.org.
Lots of fun and excitement
“It’s great to see the great fabulous environment here and the fun,” said Dawn Stanhope, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, one of many leaders of Manatee nonprofits who stopped by at noon at the MCF office to check in on the Challenge totals.
“I’m sure the next 24 hours will be exciting,” Stanhope added.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, one of approximately 126 nonprofits based in Manatee or serving the county, has set a goal to raise $20,000 from the Challenge, which will provide scholarships for 25 kids to go to Boys & Girls Clubs for a full year, Stanhope said.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County annually serves 4,000 children ages 5 through 18. It has seven locations in Manatee County, including two traditional clubs and five that are school-based.
“We are there to provide after-school programming as well as full-time in the summer in order to give kids a safe and productive environment where they can achieve their goals,” Stanhope said.