Inaugural campaign raises more than $800K for Utah nonprofits

Published: Monday, March 25 2013 6:10 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The statewide Love UT Give UT online giving campaign, a 24-hour effort to raise awareness and funds for some 400 Utah nonprofits, netted more than $800,000 in its inaugural day of giving Friday.

Total donations could reach $915,000 once the nonprofits report whether the giving reached levels required by matching and challenge grants, said Fraser Nelson, executive director of the Community Foundation of Utah, which coordinated the effort.

Nelson said the online campaign cost about $60,000 to conduct.

"To raise more than $800,000, it's a pretty sharp return on investment. We're pretty excited," Nelson said.

The event, which ran from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Friday, had other benefits for nonprofit organizations, she said.

"Well over half of the gifts to nonprofits were from new donors," Nelson said, explaining the result of a survey of nonprofit organizations that received donations.

Participating in the online giving campaign required little financial investment, other than their time, from the nonprofits themselves. Two-thirds of the participating nonprofits spent $100 or less.

Nonprofit organizations were lumped into four groups — small, medium and large, as well as a separate category for schools.

Among small nonprofits, two nonprofits dedicated to animal care received high levels of support, with Faces for Animal Care and Effective Solutions, which assists Salt Lake County Animal Services in eliminating euthanasia, receiving more than $7,200. 

Noble Horse Sanctuary, which rescues aging, abused and neglected horses, received $6,800.

In the medium-sized category, Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah received more than $8,000 in giving.

Meanwhile, The Sharing Place, a grief support group for children and their families, received more than $10,000 in gifts. 

Among large nonprofit organizations, Girl Scouts of Utah received $8,600 and TURN Community Services, which supports people with disabilities who live, work and play in their communities, received nearly $8,900 in gifts, according to the loveutgiveut.org website.

Westminster College, the Weber School District Foundation and the Salt Lake Arts Academy were among the top recipients in the schools category.

Whether it's a community gardens or advocacy organization for human rights, Nelson said Utah's nonprofit organizations represent a broad array of interests and passions.

"It's so diverse. It just shows that Utah isn't a generic place at all. All kinds of people are doing all kinds of things for all types of issues," she said.

The campaign helped participating nonprofit organizations hone their social networking skills, whether they were tweeting about contributions or directing Web traffic to Facebook pages or websites.

"This gave them an excuse to get to know their social media strategy and use it in a way they hadn't before," she said.

Asked whether conducting the day of giving the same day as the opening round of March Madness was a good idea, Nelson said she believes it may have been a boon, particularly if college basketball fans were watching the games on the Internet.

"There was so much Twitter traffic and there was a lot of Facebooking, they were probably seeing quite a bit of news about this," he said.

E-mail: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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