Giving $1M goal a ‘go’: Go Big Give hits the home stretch

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Giving $1M goal a ‘go’: Go Big Give hits the home stretch

142 nonprofit organizations benefit from community's generosity
Jessica Votipka May 6, 2021 

Alot of generosity and community spirit can be crammed into 24 hours, as indicated by 2021’s installment of Go Big Give.

The online event assembled Hall, Hamilton, Howard and Merrick counties nonprofits into an easily-navigated clearinghouse where anyone can be a philanthropist. A record 142 local nonprofits participated, and Go Big Give set a lofty $1 million fundraising goal.

As of 10:30 p.m. on the big day, Go Big Give raised just over $1.25 million through just over 4,800 donations. At that time, the Nebraska Christian Schools Foundation sat comfortably at the top of the nonprofit leaderboard with more than $113,000 in donations. In addition to more traditional donations, online Go Big Give gifts had the potential to be matched or win incentive prizes. The main event was May 6, but a pre-giving period via the Go Big Give website offered an option to donate ahead of time.

With so many causes to support, if a donor had a hard time narrowing the beneficiaries down, a “Support them All” pool will be distributed among all participating nonprofits. Go Big Give is organized by Heartland United Way and Greater Grand Island Community Foundation, neither of which receive financial benefit from the event.

Nonprofits participating in Go Big Give get benefits beyond the bucks; by taking part in Go Big Give, organizations increase their visibility thereby attracting new supporters and giving people the opportunity to learn more about the organization and its work.

“Go Big Give is about raising money, but it also raises awareness about the work these organizations do,” said Karen Rathke, Heartland United Way president and chief professional officer. Rathke said Go Big Give often blossoms into relationships that grow beyond the big day, whether through volunteering, continuing to donate or simply spreading the word.

This year, Rathke said, had a much different feel than 2020, when the cloud of coronavirus loomed. “We had postponed the Go Big Give event in May to July,” Rathke said. “Even then it was still kind of heavy.”

In 2020, funds and priorities shifted within many nonprofits, Rathke said. “The organizations who were trying to do their normal work were tasked with doing additional work,” she said.

The mood for Go Big Give 2021 was more celebratory, especially for organizations who had to put activities on pause during the pandemic.

“It was a fun year to be back celebrating the hard work they’ve put in,” Rathke said. “We see the great work that is done by so many staff and volunteers. People don’t know how hard it is; we are ready to thank all of these nonprofit organizations and Give them the resources they need.”

Activities hosted by the four-county area nonprofits and their supporters were scattered around, from trying out robots to grabbing a cup of coffee with a slice of cake. While not all 142 organizations hosted events, many did. Some chose to publicize theirs, but there were also more intimate gatherings.

Coming together to celebrate service bodes well for nonprofits, Rathke said. “A lot of the organizations find when they do (have events) they have success with that.”

As much as Go Big Give is about celebrating, at its core the event, in its eighth year, touches lives beyond the activities, challenges and prizes. It supports organizations — people — who make a difference, Rathke said. “It allows these agencies to come back to serve the people they care so deeply about.”

Go Big Give 2021 had big shoes to fill; in 2020 more than $1,017,000 was raised total among 132 nonprofits. An impressive 2,100 donors contributed within 24 hours. Rathke reported that in the last seven years, Go Big Give has garnered more than $4.6 million in contributions and impacted 196 area nonprofits.…;