Minnesota nonprofits are seeing an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty, job losses and food insecurity while traditional in-person fundraising efforts are curbed by the pandemic.

Give to the Max Day is taking on a special meaning this year because of that and Jake Blumberg, executive director of GiveMN, said he hopes Minnesotans will be able to dig deep this year to support their local nonprofits.

“The need in our communities this year is really so much more significant than a typical year or any year any one of us has lived through,” Blumberg said.

Minnesotans can participate in Give to the Max Day all day Thursday by donating on GiveMN.org, although the website is already open for early donations. Donors can search for organizations by name, keyword or ZIP code.

Erica Staab-Absher, executive director of the HOPE Center in Faribault, said they’re excited about the day every year. The center typically receives $2,000-5,000 from 15-45 donors on Give to the Max Day. This year, she said they’re hoping to receive at least $5,000 from 40 donors. The center, which helps residents who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault, has had an increase in demand for its services this year, she said. Many of their clients have lost their jobs and are food insecure, and don’t want to leave their abusive situation because their significant other is the one who has a job, she said. At the same time, the pandemic has meant that the HOPE Center can’t hold its in-person fundraisers. They did an online fundraiser and recently did a mailer explaining the need for additional funding, she said.

Give to the Max Day is nice because it provides a trusted platform for donations and an easy way for the organization to get the word out, she said.

"And for a day, we can focus on the good," she said.

Nonprofits who receive donations on Thursday will be eligible to receive additional money throughout the day via “Golden Tickets.” A nonprofit will be chosen every 15 minutes to have $500 added to a donation and a nonprofit will be chosen every hour to have $1,000 added to a donation. One nonprofit will also be chosen to receive $10,000.

This year’s Give to the Max Day theme is “Give Where You Live.” Blumberg called the day the “Great Minnesota Give Together” and said Minnesotans donating to organizations collectively on one day creates a sense of community connection.

While the need in Minnesota is great this year, GiveMN has already had $20 million donated to Minnesota organizations through its website during the first nine months of 2020, which is three times the amount donated during that time last year.

“We can’t stop now,” Blumberg said.

The Kenyon Area Historical Society typically sees a few donations from Give to the Max Day that help fund its programs and events at the Gunderson House, such as the Christmas Cookie Walk.

Historical Society Board member Kevin Anderson said there are so many needs in the local community and it’s especially important to donate this year because the needs are great during the pandemic.

“The local organizations work hard and the members donate a lot of time and it’s nice to see the community support them,” he said.

Donations to Rice County Area United Way make their way into communities in many different ways, but without the donations, they wouldn’t be able to help with a lot of needs, said Executive Director Penny Hillemann.

Many of the organizations United Way partners with have seen an increase in demand for their services, such as food support and financial assistance, during the pandemic while they haven’t been able to fundraise like normal, she said.

While some residents may be feeling the financial burden of the pandemic with furloughs or struggling businesses, she encourages residents who feel financially stable to help on Give to the Max Day.

“There’s satisfaction in supporting the local community and helping your neighbors get through the toughest of times,” she said.

Jennifer Nelson, vice president of external relations at Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, based in Owatonna, said its hoping to raise money on Give to the Max Day for their COVID-19 relief efforts and overall efforts in the 20-county region it serves. Residents often overlook the needs in their own communities, but the pandemic has brought those needs to the forefront, she said.

“There’s a lot more need and we are all a lot more aware of the opportunities to invest in our communities,” she said.

SMIF has 11 community foundations participating separately in Give to the Max Day and donations to SMIF will benefit all 30 community foundations in its area. It’s important for people to donate locally because they are the agencies that are there in the communities in both the good and bad years that will support the longevity in the community and the region, she said.

“These are the organizations that do the work in times of crisis,” she said.

Reach Associate Editor Lisa Kaczke at 507-444-2371. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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