The Give Day Tampa Bay clock started ticking at midnight this morning, counting down 24 hours of a donation blitz organizers hope will involve thousands of people and total up to $1 million.
Nearly 400 social service, education, health and cultural non-profits signed on to participate today, linking their websites to givedaytampabay.org to grab as many donors as possible throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
Any contribution of $25 or more is welcomed, say the facilitators: the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, which oversees $180 million of charitable assets, and the Florida Next Foundation, which promotes innovative enterprise.
The effort is new to the area but has been successful elsewhere. Marlene Spalten, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, thinks it can pull the Tampa Bay region out of the basement of national charitable giving.
"If we could raise $1 million, it would raise us 40 places and make a significant difference in how we are viewed," said Spalten, citing a recent national survey ranking in the bottom third.
"I'm very competitive," Spalten said. "Miami did $1.2 million their first year. I think we are at least as good as Miami." By year two, Give Miami Day reported 12,200 donations totaling more than $3.26 million for more than 400 nonprofits.
Here's how it works: Click on givedaytampabay.org, choose an organization to support, set a dollar amount, add credit or debit card data and send.
Volunteers also will take phone contributions at (813) 282-1975.
Many agencies plan activities to keep the momentum going. For instance, four cultural groups will offer live music, bubble stomping, tree climbing and more fun from 3 to 7 p.m. in North Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg.
At least $100,000 in cash prizes should motivate the recipient nonprofits. For example, $2,500 will go to the agency collecting the most money during the noon lunch hour, during 5 to 6 p.m. happy hour or for having the most social media shares.
The biggest winners can earn $10,000 for most donors and $10,000 for the most dollars. No single agency may win both.
"Hopefully," said Spalten, "Give Day is not just one day of giving, but a mutually satisfying relationship between new donors and the nonprofits whose mission resonates with them."