If you’ve ever been to Arkansas or know someone from here, you probably know Arkansans are generous. Would you like some numbers to back that up?
Arkansas ranks 7th in charitable giving, despite having the 3rd highest rate of poverty in America. It’s also home to 2 of 30 largest charitable foundations in America.
Arkansas has a small population (33rd in America), but it uses that to its advantage: its people take pride in being a part of such a close-knit, statewide community, and they take care of each other like family.
On April 2, 2015, we saw this statewide community take action to make Arkansas the most giving place on the face of the planet: the first annual ArkansasGives.
WHAT IS ARKANSAS GIVES?
The Arkansas Community Foundation (ARCF) and the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance (ANA) teamed up to bring a statewide day of giving to the state. On this one day, people around the state gave to their choice of nonprofits across the state by visiting www.arkansasgives.org.
HOW DID IT START?
The benefits were obvious, but the challenge was massive. How do you create an event to get people excited about giving away their money? How can an event multiply the value of every person’s gift? How can it bring together corporations and nonprofits in a spirit of selflessness, and create new connections between nonprofits spread across the state?
ArkansasGives answered all of these questions by combining business and philanthropic dollars with Arkansans’ personal donations to support a statewide network of nonprofits. $350,000 from sponsors increased every person’s individual gift. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation joined by contributing $50,000 to match gifts given to its grantees.
ArkansasGives set the ambitious goal of raising $1 million in 12 hours. Ambassadors from the ARCF and ANA spent months campaigning with the help of local media to get nonprofits signed up and get the word out. When April 2nd finally arrived, people gathered in watch parties around the state as the Governor cut the ceremonial ribbon. ArkansasGives volunteers, sponsors, and hundreds of nonprofits around the state watched closely to see what the next 12 hours would bring.
Everyone saw the results live online. In the first 20 minutes, over $60,000 in donations poured in! By the 4-hour mark, more than $750,000. At hour 6, ArkansasGives smashed through its $1 million goal! By the end of the day, through 7,552 individual donations, and the generosity of 16 sponsors, $2.33 million dollars was given to 361 nonprofits! ANA saw its membership more than double, creating a larger and stronger network of Arkansas nonprofits.
ArkansasGives was an amazing achievement, but how does it compare to giving days in other states? Georgia Giving Day recently raised $2.29 million in a state with almost 3½ times Arkansas’s population. On their first giving days, Alabama Gives raised $738,000, and Mississippi Gives raised $25,000. In short, we not only exceeded our own goals, we set a new standard of collective giving for the South!
ArkansasGives will likely be back next year, with brand new goals and records to be smashed. Its success will depend on Arkansans’ willingness to give their time, talent, and treasure. In other words, its success is all but guaranteed.