Go Big Give 2021 shatters $1 million goal

Go Big Give 2021 shatters $1 million goal

Jessica Votipka May 8, 2021 

Go Big Give 2021 was going for the goal to the tune of $1 million as part of the annual nonprofit fundraising festival.

Go it did, garnering more than $1.3 million, to be shared between 142 organizations by the end of the day Thursday. A total of 5,023 unique donations comprised the total raised.

The possibility of hitting a million was apparent to the Go Big Give team by the middle of the day, but optimism came even earlier than that, said Melissa DeLaet, CEO at Greater Grand Island Community Foundation.

“We went into the day with big expectations and hopes,” DeLaet said.

Once the late-night final count was tallied, the Go Big Give staff members had a record-breaking total to celebrate.

“I think we’re still a little bit in shock,” DeLaet said.

The 24-hour online event assembled Hall, Hamilton, Howard and Merrick counties nonprofits into an easily navigated clearinghouse where anyone can be a philanthropist.

The Go Big Give website leaderboard final tallies have Nebraska Christian Schools Foundation sitting at the No. 1 spot with $125,039. The foundation supports Nebraska Christian Schools, based in Central City. The school educates grades pre-K to 12, and is a nondenominational private school. One hundred and ten donations contributed to the nonprofit’s effort.

Rounding out the top three were Grand Island Central Catholic Development Foundation with $107,125 and in third place Aurora’s Edgerton Explorit Center, which had a grand total of $86,794.

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.

In addition to more straightforward donations, online Go Big Give gifts had the potential to be matched or win incentive prizes. While the main event was May 6, a pre-giving period via the event’s website offered an option to donate a few weeks in advance.

DeLaet said both organizations and donors went all-out for Go Big Give 2021 with plenty of activities on Thursday, showing off a lot of creativity and dedication.

“It’s been fun to watch the community come around their nonprofits,” she said.

Nonprofits participating in Go Big Give get benefits beyond the bucks. By taking part, organizations increase their visibility, thereby attracting new supporters, getting more active on social media 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 sparks relationships between organizations and supporters lasting beyond the big day, whether through volunteering, continuing to donate or simply spreading the word about an organization.

As much celebration as there was when the total came through, Rathke said as she and the rest of Go Big Give’s organizers celebrated they had a true meaning of Go Big Give in mind: “We’re thrilled for all of the nonprofits — they’re the real winners,” she said.

Now that 2021 is finished, the work for 2022 already has begun. Much like 2021, hopes are high, DeLaet said. “We’ll be going into it saying, ‘How can we make it bigger and better?’”

Go Big Give 2021 far eclipsed 2020’s totals. That year more than $1,017,000 was raised to be split among 132 nonprofits. An impressive 2,100 donors contributed within 24 hours. With the addition of 2021’s total, in its eight years, the community collaboration has brought in nearly $6 million for area nonprofits.

Go Big Give’s first Give day raised $250,000 in 2014.

Go Big Give is organized by Heartland United Way and Greater Grand Island Community Foundation, neither of which receive financial benefit from the event.