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Go Big Give’s goal for 2019 is $1M

    Donations and participants in Go Big Give have increased markedly over the giving event’s first five years, and organizers have set a big goal for the sixth year.
    Go Big Give leaders hope to raise $1 million during this year’s event, which will be Thursday, May 2. Organizers hope participants have “a million gifts for the world we want to make.”
    Those funds will be distributed to more than 125 nonprofit organizations in Hall, Hamilton, Howard and Merrick counties. Go Big Give is presented by Heartland United Way and the Grand Island Community Foundation.
    “We believe this is a giving community that has a million gifts to make,” Melissa DeLaet of the Grand Island Community Foundation said at a kickoff gathering Tuesday morning for the 2019 Go Big Give. About 135 people attended the event, held in the Tom Dinsdale Automotive Community Room.
    Last year’s Go Big Give raised $676,066, compared to $251,984 in 2014. Over that period, the number of nonprofits involved rose from 66 to 111. The number of donors increased from 836 in 2014 to 2,070 in 2018.
    Similar increases were seen in the number of new donors, the number of donations and the percentage of new donors. “So we just keep rolling,” said Karen Rathke of Heartland United Way.
    Rathke told the nonprofit representatives that the success of Go Big Give is a credit to all of them. “But it’s also a big investment in our communities,” she said.
    In addition to raising money, the 24-hour event helps nonprofits gain visibility, share their message and entice new donors.
    The big goal is to raise funds. “The other half of that goal is to create that awareness and to grow philanthropy in this area,” Rathke said in an interview. That means attracting new donors, gaining new volunteers and giving people “a better understanding of who these organizations are and how they can connect to them.”
    If every nonprofit organization averages $8,000 in donations, the $1 million goal will be met, DeLaet said.
    Over the five years, $2.55 million has been raised for 146 nonprofit organizations. The total number of donations made over the years is 15,200.
    The secret to Go Big Give’s success “is the community and the support of the organizations in our community,” DeLaet said in an interview. “If they keep doing the good work, the donations will keep coming in.”
    Presenters built enthusiasm and shared tips for having success with Go Big Give.
    One innovation this year is the Cheer Page. Using those pages, people may set goals for Go Big Give and share their efforts via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
    One of the organizations attending Tuesday’s meeting was Shoot 4 Life. Representing the event were Dennis Beran, Francis Sindelar and Ray Glaser. This will be the first Go Big Give for Shoot 4 Life, which has raised money for pro-life groups since 2012. Some younger board members suggested the organization take part, Beran said. The goal is to raise funds and promote the shooting contest. Glaser is hoping his son will help with some of the internet work.
    Another attendee was Hillary Fuhrman of Hamilton County 4-H. That organization is not getting as much money from Go Big Give as it would like, Fuhrman said. But every year, the amount gets a little bigger. She’s optimistic about using cheer pages.
    The Edgerton Explorit Center in Aurora takes full advantage of Go Big Give. Last year, the hands-on museum used the event to raise $107,000.
    “It’s just a great opportunity for us to ask people for support and help,” said Executive Director Mary Molliconi. “We’ve been very successful in being persistent, making sure they know we have a cause, what the money’s going to be used for that we raise, and that they make a difference.”
    Last year, the Edgerton Explorit Center had the most donors in the pre-give program.
    This year, the pre-giving period runs from April 25 to May 1. Supporters may start going online to make donations during that period.
    Go Big Give is primarily an online and social media experience. Those who write checks should date their donations between April 1 and May 2.
    For more information, visit