A half-million dollars in matching funds alone will be up for grabs this week when nonprofit groups from throughout the Omaha area compete in a 24-hour online fundraising spree organized by the Omaha Community Foundation.
The first Omaha Gives! challenge will take place from midnight Tuesday to midnight Wednesday. Between those hours, donors can visit OmahaGives24.org and contribute $10 or more to the nonprofits of their choosing.
Throughout the day, the website will feature a leader board showing real-time results, with $500,000 in matching funds at stake. The more money a nonprofit raises in individual contributions, the bigger cut of the pie it receives when the day ends.
The incentives don't stop there. Each hour, $1,000 will be added to a randomly selected donation. Additionally, bonus gifts as high as $10,000 will go to groups that attract the greatest number of donors.
“Even if you can't give a larger donation, your $10 contributes toward those participation prizes,” said Kali Baker, communications director for the Omaha Community Foundation. “It was really important to us to come up with a structure to incentivize that sort of giving.”
More than 300 nonprofits will participate, and some are devising strategies to get their fans to donate at all hours.
“We're telling our contributors to schedule their contributions during early hours, so we can start strong,” said Andrew Norman, co-founder of Hear Nebraska, which promotes the state's music scene.
In theory, that plan also gives the small organization a better chance of netting one of those random hourly prizes.
“For us, to have $1,000 tacked on to a donation is a really big deal,” Norman said.
Several groups plan to celebrate the day of giving with special events, including the Vocational Development Center (VODEC), a nonprofit that provides residential and vocational services for persons with disabilities. Starting at noon, VODEC staff and clients will play a buddy baseball game at the Seymour Smith complex (72nd and Harrison Streets), with free lunch from Buffalo Wild Wings for those who come out and show their support.
“What we really want to do is raise awareness for this population that really needs a lot of help,” said Cindy Bruneteau, VODEC community relations director.
Still, much of the activity will happen online, as nonprofits and their supporters take to Facebook and Twitter to promote their causes. The past week saw a flurry of emails and posts on social media about the Omaha Gives! challenge, and a number of groups are planning daylong campaigns to encourage donations.
All contributions must be made online. Donors who want assistance making their online contributions can visit the Omaha Community Foundation office on Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m, or call 402-342-3458.
The Omaha Gives! challenge will come one week after a similar fundraiser in Lincoln, organized by the Lincoln Community Foundation, raised more than $2.1 million for 253 organizations. According to the Lincoln Community Foundation, Give to Lincoln Day, held May 16, brought in contributions from more than 6,600 individuals.
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A sampling of Omaha Gives! events on Wednesday
» From 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., the Omaha Parks Foundation will give out coffee and doughnuts at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, and more coffee and doughnuts throughout the day at other parks community centers around town.
» From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Victory Riding Academy (7910 L St.), which provides horsemanship lessons and therapeutic riding services, will offer free horse rides for first responders and active duty military personnel and their families. The academy also will show off two of its mini horses, Dolly and Mater, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
» From 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., organizers behind the effort to restore the historic Benson Theatre will host a reception at the Pizza Shoppe Collective (6056 Maple St.), including live music and tours of the theater space next door.
» Other events include 12 hours of live music at Love's Jazz & Arts Center (2510 N. 24th St.) and a musical showcase at Slowdown (729 N. 14th St.) presented collaboratively by Hear Nebraska, Maha Music Festival, Omaha Girls Rock and OEA Awards Inc.
A full list of Omaha Gives! events and participating nonprofits can be found at OmahaGives24.org.