Looking back at 2015’s March Millions—and how matching gifts inspire new levels of generosity

Just last year, GiveMN helped facilitate a $1 million matching gift campaign for more than a hundred nonprofits in southeastern Minnesota. Below, read an excerpt of our blog post from 2015 to learn how this month-long match was met in just four days.

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MarchMillions2In the fall of 2014, the trustees of the Otto Bremer Foundation asked GiveMN to facilitate a creative way for the foundation to be introduced to a new region for responsive grantmaking—southeastern Minnesota. They were interested in making a large matching gift ($1 million!) to area organizations to learn about the causes the community values most.

It was an easy yes for GiveMN because if there’s one failsafe way to ignite generosity, it’s matching gifts. The evidence is all around us, from Buy One Get One promotions at local retailers to Yale/University of Chicago research across a wide swath of charities showing that the presence of a dollar-for-dollar match increases donor response rate by as much as 19%.

GiveMN worked with Lue Her and his colleagues to create Otto Bremer Foundation’s March Millions for Southeastern Minnesota and they selected just over 100 organizations from the region to participate. In addition to the $1 million in matching funds, one lucky donor was selected each day in March to win a $1,000 Bremer Boost prize grant for their organization and a Mega Bremer Boost of $10,000 was awarded at the end of the campaign, randomly drawn from all March Millions donations.

Before the campaign went live, the GiveMN team guessed how much the campaign would generate. Guesses ranged from $358,034 (the amount of money raised on GiveMN.org by organizations in those counties during the entire prior year) to the full $1 million.

MarchMillions4The final result? Donors met the month-long advertised match in just four days. In addition to the $1 million from Otto Bremer Foundation, supporters made more than $1.2 million in gifts to these nonprofits during the month of March.

So why has this campaign been so successful? Here are three key factors that have helped inspire more than 2,100 unique donors to make a donation:

  1. The generous matching gift from Otto Bremer Foundation.$1 million is the largest matching gift to be offered competitively on GiveMN ever! It was first come, first served (or first given, first matched) across all participating organizations and it got the attention of nonprofits, media, and donors. We like to call matching gifts “Minnesota’s BOGO for Good!”
  2. The 102 participating organizations.They got creative about how they promoted March Millions, whether it was right out of the gate in the race for matching dollars or rallying later in the month around winning those Bremer Boost prizes. There was a sense of community and “we all win” among the nonprofits that swooped into action with less than a month to prepare for this campaign.
  3. The media coverage. GiveMN and Otto Bremer Foundation, with the support of FleishmanHillard, put together a small paid media campaign and a successful earned media campaign, raising the visibility of the March Millions effort across the region.

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For more strategies and tips on matching gifts, attend GiveMN’s “Strike a Match: 5 (and a half) steps to get your fundraising cooking and ignite generosity with matching gifts” webinar on Tuesday, April 26.

Give to the Max Day 2015 inspired more generous donors than ever before

As GiveMN concludes our seventh year, having raised more than $140 million for Minnesota nonprofits and schools since our founding, Give to the Max Day is about more than just the dollars raised. It brings awareness to the organizations that strengthen our communities through a collaboration of media partners, corporate supporters, foundation sponsors, and tens of thousands of donors supporting favorite causes and new organizations.

Beyond just the $18 million raised, take a look at the behind-the-scenes data in our #GTMD15 infographic.


Centennial Middle School honors donor whose $100 gift helped win $20,000 Super-Sized Golden Ticket

On Give to the Max Day 2014, Marjorie Pehl Wood donated $100 to Centennial Middle School in Lino Lakes, giving what she could to help support young people in her community. Later that day, her donation was randomly selected by GiveMN to receive a $20,000 Super-Sized Golden Ticket, sponsored by the Bush Foundation, a shock to both Wood and Centennial Middle School Principal Bob Stevens.

In January, nearly 14 months after winning the Golden Ticket, Centennial Middle School held a grand opening for their new Learning Commons, named in Wood’s honor. North Metro TV was on hand to catch Wood’s reaction when she saw the new space for the first time.

Video courtesy of North Metro TV.

For more photos of this event, view our Facebook album of the morning’s festivities.

Year-end charitable giving could reduce your 2015 taxes

Although Give to the Max Day is one of Minnesota’s most charitable days each year, the last two days of each calendar year are generally the busiest days for online giving nationwide, as people take a look at the opportunity to make the most of their year-end tax situation.

Should you consider “year-end giving?” Any day is a great day to give, but we’ve put together a short Q&A list to help you decide whether to make a gift by the end of 2015…and how a free account on GiveMN.org will keep you from searching for paper receipts!

How could year-end charitable giving help my tax situation?
At the end of the year, tax filers have a clearer picture of their individual tax situations. If you are near the cutoff between tax brackets, charitable gifts may help you lessen your tax burden for when you file in early 2016. Additionally, with the amount saved in owed taxes, you can stretch your dollar farther to help your favorite cause!

Who stands to benefit the most from year-end giving?
Only individuals who itemize their tax deductions will receive the extra benefits of donating before the end of the year.

What type of organizations should I donate to in order to qualify for charitable giving?
All certified 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible to receive tax-exempt donations. In addition, most churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are considered de facto eligible to receive tax-exempt donations. All organizations listed on GiveMN.org are eligible.

How may I make a donation?
You may make a cash, check, or credit card donation. Just make sure you receive a receipt. By using GiveMN.org, you can search tens of thousands of Minnesota nonprofits and schools by keyword or location and make an immediate donation using your credit card and receive an immediate email receipt. 

What are the benefits of using GiveMN.org for making my donation?
GiveMN.org is Minnesota’s front door for charitable giving! You’ll find thousands of eligible nonprofits and schools when you search by keyword or location. Upon making your donation, you will receive an immediate email receipt. Better yet, we’ll provide one report detailing all of your charitable giving for the previous year early in 2016. You support your favorite cause, and we handle all of the boring financial stuff!

Simply create a free account on GiveMN.org to track your giving.

What is the deadline for charitable gifts to count for my 2015 taxes?
Donations using credit cards must be transacted on or before December 31, regardless of when the credit card bill is paid. If you decide to mail a check, it must be placed in the mail in 2015.

Are there limits as to how much I can give?
There are some limits to charitable giving tax benefits, but they are pretty high. Read the IRS guidelines. 

What types of records do I need to keep? You will need to keep some sort of documentation issued from the organization displaying the name of the charity, date of contribution, and amount of contribution. This typically comes in a receipt either mailed or emailed to you from the organization. By using GiveMN, you receive an email receipt immediately. Additionally, by creating an account, you can download a report of all of your charitable giving on GiveMN.org near the beginning of 2016.

What about gifting stock?
Gifting appreciated stock is one of the most effective means of tax savings available. According to RBC Wealth Management First Vice President and Financial Advisor Darla Kashian, the benefits are threefold:

  1. The satisfaction of knowing your money is invested in a cause important to you.
  2. Capital gains taxes on the stock are avoided.
  3. You will be eligible to receive an income tax charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the stock at the time of the gift.

Kashian reminds that to qualify for these special tax advantages, the security must have been held for at least one year.

What else should I consider for charitable stock gifting?
Kashian provides more information on other benefits of gifting stock: “While you might think that only people who itemize their taxes will benefit from year-end stock gifting, it’s worthwhile to consider a stock gift if you have a concentrated position in a stock as a way of reducing that concentration.  It is also a way to potentially make a larger gift by thinking of the cost of the stock as the dollar amount of your gift, rather than the current value.  For example, if you’re planning to gift $1000 in cash, you might stock that has a cost basis of $1,000.  But truly, it is the clients, members, and beneficiaries of your cherished charities who will benefit most from your generosity.”

If you would like to make a charitable gift to count as part of your 2015 tax returns, remember to make the gift by midnight on Thursday, Dec. 31! Want to make a quick gift to a Minnesota organization or learn more about worthy causes in your community? Visit GiveMN.org to search by keyword or location, find an organization or school (or more!) you believe in, and make a gift in seconds!

Read more IRS tips for year-end giving.

Give to the Max Day 2015—A seven year tradition continues to evolve


Jake BlumbergThe first two weeks of a new job are always about learning—where the coffee pot is, who the best resource in the office is for a lunch recommendation…and in my most recent experience, what raising over $18 million from more than 62,000 donors in 24 hours looks like.

My eighth day as the executive director of GiveMN was Give to the Max Day 2015 (well, actually my eighth and ninth days, as I was awake for nearly 48 hours straight.)  As a fundraiser for multiple organizations here in Minnesota previously, I knew what Give to the Max Day looked like as a participant. Seeing it from the inside as more than 5,600 organizations processed gifts from generous donors was a different experience entirely.

Here are the moments I’ll remember most looking back on #GTMD15:

  • As a fundraiser, there may be nothing more intoxicating than watching donations roll in online; it is the type of immediate gratification many of us in our sector rarely get to have. Watching more than 127,000 donations roll in over 24 hours at an average of more than one per second through GiveMN.org? It was basically the fundraising equivalent of the new Star Wars movie debuting! (OK, Star Wars fans, calm down.  I know that sounds like blasphemy—but it really was AMAZING!)
  • Organizations in every county in Minnesota received gifts during #GTMD15—and donors from every county in Minnesota, every state in the United States, and dozens of countries supported nonprofits and schools in Minnesota. If I had ever wondered what a group hug from more than 62,000 folks might feel like—this was it!
  • Margaret Mead knew what she was talking about when she encouraged us to “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world…” Watching the small but mighty GiveMN team (there are four of us) along with our technology and community partners work directly with thousands of nonprofits, schools and donors leading up to #GTMD15 and throughout the day, I couldn’t have been more impressed and proud to see the incredible impact our community made together during Minnesota’s giving holiday.

principals_300Those takeaways, among many others, are already informing our direction as an organization as we look to 2016 and beyond. I am humbled by the opportunity we have in front of us. GiveMN has already helped to make an incredible impact across the state and nation, helping to generate more than $140 million in donations for organizations since our founding in 2009, while also leading a national evolution of what online giving looks like.

My predecessors Dana Nelson—our founding executive director—as well as Interim Executive Director Andy Goldman-Gray, have partnered with members of our board of directors, staff and funders to build an organization that has connections with thousands of organizations and hundreds of thousands of donors. I couldn’t be more grateful for the work that has been done to build GiveMN up to this point. Now, we have a chance to write the next chapter of philanthropic innovation for Minnesota­­—an opportunity that gets me almost as excited as watching all those gifts pour in on Give to the Max Day!

What will that future look like? One way or another, it will include increased collaboration with our nonprofit and school partners, robust resources for our donors, and innovative ideas to ignite generosity in new and different ways throughout the state. Look to this space, as well as our other communication channels, for more details in 2016—and if you have an idea, please email it to info@givemn.org so you can be part of the dialogue.

Thanks for all you do for Minnesota, and stay tuned—we can’t wait to partner with you in making our communities a better place!