Pittsburgh Day of Giving becomes part of national event

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Pittsburgh’s Day of Giving — the annual online donation event that has raised millions of dollars for nonprofits in the region — this year will be held in May instead of its traditional October date in a move to link up with a nationwide initiative to bring attention to philanthropy.

The Pittsburgh Foundation, which launched Day of Giving five years ago, has opted to become part of Give Local America, an online giving event that will be held May 6 throughout the U.S.

Organizers of Give Local America “are trying to get all of us that have Days of Giving to do them all on one day,” said Grant Oliphant, president and chief executive of the Pittsburgh Foundation.

In other changes, Day of Giving will be reduced to 18 hours — from 6 a.m. to midnight — from its previous 24-hour format.

In past years, only a small percentage of donations were made to the PittsburghGives.org website between midnight and 6 a.m., “so that was a practical decision,” said Mr. Oliphant. “It was partly an acknowledgement of that reality and cutting my staff a break.”

Also, this year’s event will benefit nonprofits in Butler County, in addition to the more than 700 organizations in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties that have been past recipients. The Butler County Endowments, a fund at the Pittsburgh Foundation, is making $10,000 in matching funds available for Butler nonprofits.

For Allegheny and Westmoreland nonprofits, the available matching funds this year are expected to be the same as in 2013, said Mr. Oliphant. The total includes $750,000 for Allegheny County nonprofits that will be provided by the Pittsburgh Foundation and one of its affiliates, the Buncher Foundation; and between $50,000 and $100,000 for Westmoreland nonprofits from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.

As in the past, when donors contribute at PittsburghGives.org, up to $1,000 of their gift will receive a pro-rated part of the match pool. All donations must be made by credit card, and gifts must be a minimum of $25.

When it launched in 2009, Day of Giving generated a $1.5 million in donations and matching funds. Since then, the amount raised has swelled to a peak of $8.5 million in 2012. Last year, $7.7 milllion was raised.

The date change from fall to spring could suppress the turnout, Mr. Oliphant said.

While some nonprofits that participate liked the idea of holding Day of Giving earlier in the year so it wouldn’t conflict with year-end fundraising appeals, he said, others consider October a good time to get their year-end giving going.

The foundation will help sponsor another Day of Giving specifically for arts organizations Oct. 2, Mr. Oliphant said.

Regardless of when they are held, online giving events are benefiting from a growing surge in charitable donations made using computers, laptops and smartphones instead of by writing checks.

Online giving revenues jumped by 13.5 percent and comprised 6.4 percent of all donations made in 2013, according to Blackbaud Inc., a South Carolina firm that provides technology and consulting services to nonprofits.

Joyce Gannon: jgannon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1580.

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