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Big rise in ‘Valley Gives’ donations for Franklin County nonprofits

Franklin County nonprofits raked in nearly $250,000 at this year’s Valley Gives 24-hour online charity fundraiser, tripling the local donation total from last year.

Across the Pioneer Valley, nearly 11,450 donors combined to give $1.78 million. That total, combined with $225,000 in prize money distributed by the Community Foundation of western Massachusetts, put the final tally just over the foundation’s $2 million goal.

It was the second year of a one-day online philanthropy event designed to raise money for about 350 nonprofit organizations throughout western Massachusetts. Organizers were hopeful that an increased awareness of the event, more nonprofit participation and a greater emphasis on social media would pass the $1.2 million raised last year.

That seemed to be the case in Franklin County. According to preliminary numbers, 3,158 donors gave $248,458 to 53 nonprofits here.

That’s much higher than 2012 numbers, when 864 donors gave $82,129 to 30 nonprofits, according to the foundation.

Academy at Charlemont atop local nonprofits

The biggest local winner was the Academy at Charlemont, which brought in $38,631 from 187 different donors.

Despite participating in Valley Gives for the first time this year, the private school was near the top of the pack in total money raised for most of the day. It ended fifth among large nonprofits in total money raised and 11th in number of total unique donors.

“We have a strong community and people who feel strongly about our school ... and they showed it. We’re really grateful and pleased,” said Martha Tirk, the school’s director of admissions. The money will help the school’s quest to reach $200,000 in its annual fund goal.

The Franklin Land Trust, a nonprofit organization that assists farmers and others by protecting their land from unwanted development projects, raised $26,920 this year from 140 donors (including a $1,200 bonus prize). It was the second straight year the organization brought in at least $25,000.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture Inc., based in South Deerfield, was another newcomer to the fundraiser this year. The organization wanted to raise $20,000 to celebrate its 20th anniversary — a goal that was ultimately surpassed by $811, said Kelley Manson, director of development.

The Pioneer Valley Symphony, another big local winner last year, raised $11,288 from 355 unique donors — but earned $9,900 in prize money, in part because the total number of donors was second among all small nonprofits.

Money will be used to continue providing discounted family tickets at most concerts throughout the year.

Mandi Jo Hanneke, the symphony’s president, said that last year’s Valley Gives event taught the organization how to best use social media. Symphony staff kept it up throughout the year, posting videos of rehearsals and concerts to show people what the symphony was all about.

Dakin tops overall winners

For the second straight year, the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society was the biggest winner.

The Springfield-based animal shelter and adoption center with a facility in Leverett brought in $90,165 (including $21,200 in prize money), powered by 712 unique donors.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts finished second with $70,382 (including $8,700 in prize money) and New England Public Radio was close behind with $67,299 (including $11,200 in prize money).

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