UPDATE: The Big Give SA website, www.thebiggivesa.org, has been fixed and is now able to complete donation transactions. Donors have until 8 p.m. on Wednesday to go online and give. Organizers have added an additional $1,000 prize for each hour throughout the day to participating nonprofits and have worked out a system for adding up donations made during the website’s downtime on Tuesday. For more information call the Big Give hotline at 210-774-GIVE (4483).


Unprecedented technical difficulties throughout the day on Tuesday have made it impossible for many across the nation to donate to the nonprofits of their choice during online fundraising campaigns, including the 1,054 South Central Texas nonprofits participating in The Big Give SA.

Local organizers announced that they hope to have the donation function of the website up and running again from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday to make up for lost time on Tuesday. They will be “working through the night” with service provider Kimbia, whose servers partially crashed this morning under the weight of all the site traffic generated by almost 80 different fundraising campaigns across the U.S., to make that happen.

“We are hopeful, although far from certain, that all of the problems will be taken care of by (6 a.m.),” said San Antonio Area Foundation President and CEO Dennis Noll.

In the meantime, Noll and San Antonio Nonprofit Council Executive Director Scott McAninch – representing the two main partners of the Big Give SA – emphasized that the annual day of giving “is not about us.”

“It’s not about this day, it’s about the charities that we celebrate so we really want to strongly encourage everybody (to go to their favorite charity or nonprofit’s website) and continue to make donations,” Noll said. “Just becuase we’ve had a failure here of a national server facility doesn’t mean that the charities that we love and that serve San Antonio shouldn’t continue to get donations. We can still make the Big Give a success.”

Participating nonprofits and their websites are still listed on the Big Give’s website, which is still live but unable to accept donations on behalf of nonprofits. There are still significant prize money to be won via social media campaigns and that portion of the Big Give will still function. For instance, McAninch said. Pioneers Youth Leadership, City Year San Antonio, and Our Lady of the Lake University each won $1,000 this afternoon via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram respectively.

Because some prize money was tied to hourly contribution numbers and amounts, those will have to be reallocated in some way yet to be determined.

“We’re going to sit down and decide how the prizes are going to be allocated,” Noll said. “We’re going to figure out a way that’s equitable and that makes sure that the prize money is allotted in a way that represents how hard the nonprofits worked and the money that they brought in.”

Noll said participating nonprofits should await instructions via email regarding the remaining prize money.

Volunteers for The Big Give SA answer phone calls and keep track of prizes won. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Volunteers for The Big Give SA answer phone calls and keep track of prizes won, despite technical difficulties with the donation side of the website. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Organizers are working toward a solution with Give Local America, the national umbrella organization under which the local campaign operates; Kimbia, the online fundraising platform it’s using; and Rackspace, the web hosting company, said John Burnam of The Big Give SA. Though the impact of the technical difficulties on San Antonio’s $6 million fundraising goal is unknown, the donations made so far – almost $1.2 million – “will not be negatively impacted by the outage.”

“Outside of Seattle, we’re the largest user of (Give Local America’s) bandwidth,” he said, adding that they’re considering “taking ourselves offline so we can free up space, and then transitioning ourselves to a completely separate system where we’re operating by ourselves.”

Another option is to look into other fundraising service providers like Razoo, Burnam said.

Organizers have “forcefully” asked Kimbia representatives if the company will reimburse the 3% service charge applied to donations so far, Noll said. “We’re unwavering in the fact that the nonprofits shouldn’t have to pay a fee.”

“The community in San Anotonio and the 14 counties of the Hill Country, Comal, and Guadalupe – we are a giving community and you can see by that number,” McAninch said. “We were on pace, we feel, to making our goal of $6 million and we know the community was going to help us do that. … We hope that will continue tomorrow.”

The Rivard Report’s Big Give event tonight at Freetail Brewery will go on as scheduled, as are many celebratory events hosted by other nonprofits throughout the city. We’ll be keeping track of donations made and providing those numbers to Big Give organizers tomorrow as Burnam said the Big Give may be able to count them towards the total goal.

San Antonio Area Foundation President and CEO Dennis Noll comforts Dottie, a puppy from the San Antonio Humane Society, after the announcement. "You're sad about the website, too?" Noll said. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
San Antonio Area Foundation President and CEO Dennis Noll comforts Dottie, a puppy from the San Antonio Humane Society, after the announcement. “You’re sad about the website, too?” Noll said. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Managing Editor Iris Dimmick contributed to this report.

Top image: From left: San Antonio Area Foundation President and CEO Dennis Noll, San Antonio Nonprofit Council Executive Director Scott McAninch, and nonprofit consultant John Burnam called for individuals to keep donating to nonprofits. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

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Camille Garcia is a journalist born and raised in San Antonio. She formerly worked at the San Antonio Report as assistant editor and reporter. Her email is camillenicgarcia@gmail.com