By Christina Lee Knauss
Donors opened their wallets in a big way for Midlands Gives, the annual online giving event hosted by Central Carolina Community Foundation. The ninth annual event shattered previous records by raising $3.73 million on May 3 for hundreds of nonprofits around the Midlands.
The 18-hour campaign, which ran from 6 a.m. to midnight, raised $3,734,986 through 19,534 individual gifts that benefited 540 local nonprofits, the most involved in the campaign’s history.
“Once again folks across the Midlands demonstrated their incredible support for these nonprofits that make a positive difference in our lives,” said JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “We’re grateful to the thousands who came together to invest in our community, and to the members of our In Good Company Network who provided incentives to spur giving. This was truly a time that the whole community came together.”
At the top of the leaderboard for donations this year was A Moment of Hope, followed by Oliver Gospel Mission, the Ministry of Outreach to Slavic Tribes (a Midlands group providing aid to Ukraine), Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS). Camp Cole, a retreat facility for children facing physical, mental and emotional challenges, rounded out the top five.
Central Carolina Foundation opened giving for this year’s campaign on April 1, and more than $840,000 was raised in advance of the main event.
Since its beginning, Midlands Gives has consistently broken the previous year’s donation records, with this year’s results beating the previous record of $3,343,033 set in 2021. Since 2014, Midlands Gives has raised more than $19.7 million for hundreds of nonprofits in the 11 counties served by the foundation: Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda and Sumter.
Turnquist said a big part of the appeal of the Midlands Gives campaign is the ability of ordinary people to contribute what they can to causes that mean something to them. The minimum donation amount of $10 is geared to enable more people to be able to take on the role of what she likes to call the “everyday philanthropist.”
The list of nonprofits involved in this year’s campaign ran the gamut from human services and educational foundations to animal protection, the environment, business and entrepreneurship, the arts and faith-based organizations. While many donors may have had a specific nonprofit in mind, others could browse through descriptions of the 540 nonprofits on the Midlands Gives page to find one that appealed to them.
“These nonprofits help people in all different types of communities in our area — rural, suburban and urban settings — and folks were able to go online and read the mission statements of these organizations to find ones that especially hit their hearts,” Turnquist said.
Donors were able to filter through the nonprofit list by county or the nonprofit’s focus, with an additional option to seek out nonprofits that either were Black-led or benefited the Black community.
“This was also the first year in our nine-year history that we had nonprofits participating from every one of our 11 counties, which is fabulous,” Turnquist said.
For the third year in a row, the event was completely virtual, streamed on Facebook Live. Foundation staff members talked with representatives from the different types of nonprofits taking part, giving them a chance to describe their mission statements and discuss how funds raised through Midlands Gives would be used.
The interviews gave prospective donors a chance to learn specific details about the work of the featured organizations. For instance, viewers interested in animal welfare got an in-depth look at the work of top five finisher PAALS when one of the organization’s workers described how it takes two years and about $30,000 to train each service dog that the group provides.
“Midlands Gives has become our biggest fundraiser and has really saved us the last two years,” the PAALS worker said.
Turnquist said members of the foundation’s In Good Company Network helped to grow this year’s campaign through financial incentives, matching gifts and prizes for nonprofits throughout the day. Network members include Dominion Energy, Aflac, BlueCross Blueshield of South Carolina, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp., Southeastern Freight Lines and Truist.
“The thing that is key and critical to Midlands Gives is how our community comes together, from the donors to the businesses to the media,” Turnquist said. “Our entire community came together this year to invest for impact and we were united in supporting the nonprofits that do so much for us every day.”
The giving isn’t over just because the day-long event has passed. Year-round giving for the participating nonprofits is available on the Midlands Gives website (www.MidlandsGives.org) and will resume on May 9.