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Give Day Tampa Bay hits $1 million goal; MOSI gets most donations

The Museum of Science and Industry topped all other organizations participating in the 24-hour Give Day Tampa Bay event, collecting $111,344.
The Museum of Science and Industry topped all other organizations participating in the 24-hour Give Day Tampa Bay event, collecting $111,344.
Published May 8, 2014

The Give Day Tampa Bay event hit its goal of raising more than $1 million for charities in a 24-hour period Tuesday, with more than 5,000 people making donations, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay announced.

Nearly 400 social service, education, health and cultural nonprofits signed on to participate, linking their websites to to grab as many donors as possible throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.

About a quarter of the people who made donations during the Give Day Tampa Bay event were first-time donors, the organization said. All told the event, co-sponsored by the Florida NEXT Foundation, raised $1,089,359 from 12:01 a.m. Tuesday to 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

"Sometimes you just have to put some urgency around giving" to get a good result, said Community Foundation CEO Marlene Spalten.

In addition to raising money on their own, the organizations participating competed for cash prizes for getting the most donors and the most lunchtime donations. Throughout the day, Big Cat Rescue, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Benedictine Sisters of Florida were neck-and-neck-and-neck for most donors.

But at 11:59 p.m., MOSI got two checks totaling $36,000, which put it in first place, said Community Foundation marketing director Letitia Stein. That means MOSI gets the $10,000 prize on top of its donations, which totaled $111,344.

MOSI plans to use the money to pay for 400 children to attend its science summer camp, said vice president Molly Demeulenaere, who added that because she'd been working on the event, she had not slept for 48 hours.

To win, MOSI officials hit up their regular donors, used Twitter and Facebook to promote the event, and even handed out piggy banks to children with instructions to fill them up and return them.

"The message was, you don't have to be Warren Buffett to be a philanthropist," Demeulenaere said.

The Benedictine Sisters came in second with $104,255, while Big Cat Rescue finished with $85,864. However, Big Cat Rescue drew the most individual donors at 802, which earned a separate $10,000 prize.

A ZIP code breakdown of the donors shows that the most generous neighborhoods in Tampa Bay are Palma Ceia and Davis Islands. Not all the donations came from local people. Some came from as far away as Beijing, London and Glasgow, Scotland, Stein said.

More than 400 people donated $67,000 during the lunch hour, she said. And more than 300 requested more information on how to volunteer with the organizations they had given money to.

The Community Foundation and Florida NEXT organized the event because the Tampa Bay area is ranked among the weakest in the nation for charitable giving, something the groups are hoping to reverse.

They will now sit down and analyze what went right and what went wrong — and start planning for the second event next year, Spalten said.

She said she was disappointed that more than two dozen organizations that signed up for the event drew no donations whatsoever. Among the ones that collected zero donations — even from their own staff, apparently — were the Safety Harbor Library Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of East & Central Pasco County, Nature's Classroom and Hunger Free Tampa.

Spalten said those organizations did not do enough to promote their participation.

"You did have to do something," she said. "You couldn't just put your name on there and expect something to happen."

Craig Pittman can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @craigtimes.