Six million dollars. That’s how much 650 area nonprofits are hoping to raise for this year’s Big Give SA community philanthropy event on Thursday, May 4.

Throughout the week, numerous nonprofits have been pushing messages through social media, email blasts, and at various events around the city about the 24-hour, online fundraising campaign. Organizers of the event are hoping to avoid the technical difficulties that plagued last year’s Big Give, which raised $4.3 million despite the website going down.

“There’s more functionality and capability to the project this year,” said John Burnam, principal and co-founder of Burnam|Gray, a consulting firm hired to coordinate the event. “Our site crashed last year, and many people didn’t come back from the website going down. That being said, the organizations that are back accounted for 90% of the funds raised last year, so they are the agencies that got the most out of it.”

This year organizations can utilize the site year-round, which means they can fundraise whenever they want, set up volunteer opportunities, and contact donors at their convenience.

“You can give early, but the focus is on the one day,” Burnam said. “It’s one day of the year to celebrate what the charitable foundations do for our community. The community can have a profound impact on how we live, work, and play in San Antonio, whether it goes to support food or arts and culture, and it’s an opportunity to come together in 24 hours.”

Since its inception in 2014, the Big Give SA has raised approximately $11 million from more than 101,000 donors. The San Antonio Area Foundation and the Nonprofit Council are planning partners of the event, and the largest sponsorship gift came from the Area Foundation’s Santikos Fund. Click here for a full list of sponsors.

Any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Frio, Gillespie, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Medina, Uvalde, and Wilson counties can participate. The minimum donor gift this year is $5; there is no maximum. Contributions can be made with credit and debit cards only, and donations will be processed and receipted by GiveGab, an online platform that helps nonprofits raise money, engage donors, and manage volunteers.

Organizations such as Any Baby Can, the San Antonio Symphony, Blueprint Ministries, Catholic Charities, the San Antonio Food Bank, and the San Antonio AIDS Foundation are some of the participants. The Rivard Report is also participating in the Big Give this year. For a full list of participating organizations, click here.

In order to ensure the sustainability of the program, Burnam said, nonprofits are now required to pay a $200 fee to participate. Last year, 1,055 nonprofits participated in the Big Give.

Burnam works with two interns during last year’s Big Give S.A. Image courtesy of Trinity University.
John Burnam works with two interns during the 2015 Big Give SA. Credit: Courtesy / Trinity University.

“In a sense it got a little bit smaller, but it’s more focused this year,” he said. “We want to bring people back and bring more confidence to the system. Year One we raised $2.1 million dollars, Year Two $4.3 million, and Year Three we raised $4.3 million.”

There are $236,000 available in bonus prize money for the organizations that bring in the most donors, Burnam said, providing an added incentive. The Big Give website will feature multiple leaderboards so users can view various prize types and keep tabs on which nonprofits took in the most donations. The prizes are for the highest number of unduplicated, or unique, donors and for the most money raised from 12 a.m. Thursday to 12 a.m. Friday.

To look at a chart of prizes, click here.

At its core, the Big Give is about connecting donors to the causes they care about, Burnam said. “Gameifying” the day through competitive fundraising is a way for new people to connect to new nonprofits and for those organizations to get donors to continue their giving throughout the year.

To learn more about the Big Give SA, click here.

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Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...