The Big Give SA, the 24-hour fundraising extravaganza to help hundreds of area nonprofits, is coming Thursday — to heck with the pandemic.
Normally held in March, the one-day Big Give had to be postponed suddenly this spring for obvious reasons.
Between then and now, organizers filled an immediate need by putting on a virtual, two-month emergency relief fund drive that, before it ended in May, raised just under $1 million from more than 3,400 donors to help local charities weather the COVID-19 crisis.
Now, the Big Give is ready for another try.
Scott McAninch, CEO of the Nonprofit Council, which runs the event, said a recent survey shows local and area nonprofits have lost between 20 and 40 percent of their funding since March because of the pandemic.
On ExpressNews.com: Big Give SA switches to emergency relief drive
The traditional Big Give, which features riotous parties and other crowd-creating celebrations highlighting the work done by local and area nonprofits, typically raises about $4.7 million.
McAninch said he’s not sure whether the Big Give’s mostly virtual version on Thursday will reach those heights.
But he and the nonprofit community are going to give it all they’ve got.
“We want to make the day as normal and fun as possible,” he said. “Now more than ever, we want to focus on what our nonprofits are accomplishing, celebrate the work that’s being done and showcase the great needs they serve.”
The Big Give appeals to smaller-dollar donors, who can log on to thebiggivesa.org and donate whatever amount they want to more than 500 registered charities and nonprofits — ranging from the arts to wounded warriors.
The site already is open, so donors can start giving early, he said. But the official drive starts at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
People can track the dollars rolling in on a dashboard at the website and learn more about the nonprofits registered there. There also will be video clips featuring the work of various organizations.
One change this time: Additional cash donated by sponsors will be distributed as prizes to nonprofits in a more equitable fashion called Match Minutes, McAninch said.
At various times throughout the day — 9:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m., and 6:15 p.m. — donors can give within designated minute periods and their donation will be matched up to $100.
Each of the four Match Minutes will have $10,000 available for matching purposes. A final prize giveaway, called the Magic Minute, will happen at 11:15 p.m.
For many nonprofits that participate in the Big Give, the drive provides money for the essentials.
At Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, the money goes directly to the care of wildlife animals that have been injured, orphaned or displaced, founder and president Lynn Cuny said.
“We’re funded 100 percent by donations, no government funding,” she said. “When I say direct care, I mean food, medicine, special formula that orphaned animals require and other needs.”
Cuny said that during the pandemic, the number of animals her 43-year-old nonprofit cares for has gone up, not down — almost 10,000 this year at two facilities and an animal sanctuary. She’s had to curtail the work of volunteers, for infection-prevention reasons, which means her staff often has to work overtime.
Its goal for the Big Give is to raise $20,000, she said.
Hamilton K. Barton, CEO of Pay It Forward, which provides access to sober living programs for those new in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, hopes to raise about $10,000 for his nonprofit. His program provides housing and other services to those who can’t access that help any other way.
“This is an opportunity for us to continue to communicate and engage with our donors,” he said. “This helps us keep in touch with the community and let everyone know we’re still here and still moving people forward.”
On ExpressNews.com: Nonprofits struggle because of the coronavirus
Barton said the Big Give is crucial in an environment when many people are unemployed and “we don’t know what next year is going to look like. We don’t know what community support will look like, so we’re just trying to be extra-diligent to prepare for surviving whatever is in store.”
McAninch said more than half of the Nonprofit Council’s 200 members are concerned about their finances, even as the federal Paycheck Protection Program helped many push losses to the end of this year and early 2021.
Fundraising just hasn’t been the same for the past six months.
“I suspect the biggest piece of that drop is from the many in-person fundraising events that have been canceled,” he said.
As for the Big Give, there are many unknowns, he said.
“We don’t have a firm dollar goal this year, but I hope we raise close to the $4.7 million,” McAninch said. “We worry about donor fatigue, but this is a good opportunity for all of us to show support for the important work nonprofits are doing right now.”
Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje is a general assignment reporter covering breaking news, cultural trends and interesting people and goings-on around San Antonio and Bexar County, as well as all across South Texas. To read more from Melissa , become a subscriber. firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @mstoeltje