Arizona Gives Day on April 6 was a record-breaker.
According to preliminary numbers posted on Arizona Gives’ website on April 13, the 24-hour giving event raised nearly $6.3 million – surpassing last year’s record-setting $6.1 million.
More than 1,000 nonprofits participated across the state, including Scottsdale organizations such as BASIS Charter Schools, which received more than $511,000 via the Arizona Gives Day website and another $60,000 on their own sites.
BASIS also received an addition $14,000 in prize money.
“We appreciate AZ Gives and we’re thrilled to be a substantial part of it,” said Phil Handler, spokesman for BASIS Educational Ventures. “It directly benefits our bright, passionate teaching staff.”
While BASIS saw a slight increase in donations over last year, Scottsdale-based Waste Not’s support was 500 percent above last year.
The nonprofit, which is dedicated to creating sustainable food systems, raised more than $37,000 – well over the $6,000 it raised at last year’s Arizona Gives Day.
“I am genuinely grateful for each and every dollar that is contributed to Waste Not,” said Executive Director Kate Thoene. “I was very pleasantly surprised at the amount we raised, but this is a very generous community, so it’s not shocking that they came through for us.”
Kristen Merrifield, CEO at the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, called this year’s outpouring “an incredible show of generosity.”
“Donors across Arizona really stepped up again this year to show how much they value, support and need the great work being done by nonprofit organizations in every specialty area throughout the state,” Merrifield said. “We are deeply grateful.”
For many organizations, including Phoenix Herpetological Society, Arizona Gives Day is their most important fundraising day of the year.
“As we pick up the pieces from 2020, this day has helped us recoup some of the costs while our attendance was down last year,” said Katelyn Garcia, the society’s education and outreach director.
Last year, it raised about $3,500 and this year that number jumped to $5,700 – all of which will be used to care for the more than 1,000 creatures at the sanctuary.
“It will allow us to buy food, substrate — what they live on — new plants and enrichment toys for the animals,” Garcia said.
Waste Not, which has seen a “huge” increase in need for food, will used its donations to pick up and deliver to people food that may have otherwise gone to waste, Thoene said.
Waste Not collects unused food that might otherwise be thrown out by supermarkets and restaurants.
Community Engagement Manager Hillary Bryant said a recent Waste Not survey found that 64 percent of the agencies they serve reported an increase in need for food.
Besides monetary donations, Waste Not also needs more food businesses to participate and more volunteers.
“Like many nonprofits, the needs of those we serve have increased. Waste Not is 100 percent funded by philanthropic donations, so AZ Gives Day is very important to us,” Thoene said.
Arizona Gives Day also recorded more than 37,000 donations from more than 980 organizations.
And more than 1,400 volunteers pledged over 58,000 hours to help their favorite nonprofits impact their communities.
“Between the two Aprils of COVID, Arizona donors contributed at least $11.5 million to support the work of nonprofits. That is an incredible show of generosity,” Merrifield said.
Since the first Arizona Gives Day in 2013, more than $26 million has been raised for Arizona nonprofits.
Nearly $19,000 was raised this year for Hunkapi, a 10-acre therapy horse farm in Scottsdale whose services were also impacted by the pandemic.
“The services we provide to the community were greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said development associate Sydney Romagnolo. “The mental health strain posed by the pandemic only continues to grow and these donations ensure that we are and will be here to continue addressing it.”
Hunkapi will use much of its donations to buy hay.
“AZ Gives Day is vital in allowing us to continue serving our community’s mental health needs,” Romagnolo said. “These funds allow us to sustain a central piece of our work: the animals. In turn, their care allows them to continue and expand their service to those in need.”
BASIS Charter Schools will sink 100 percent of the proceeds from this year’s Arizona Gives Day into their Annual Teacher Fund — “from which we give merit-based bonuses for teachers,” Handler explained.
Over the past two years, Arizona Gives Day has been BASIS’ primary driver of donations.
Thus, many of their families now wait until AZ Gives to donate to their Annual Teacher Fund.
“This event is important to our schools as it brings in upwards of $500,000 each year for our ATF fundraising campaign,” Handler said.
Handler attributes the increase in donations to an increased desire among donors to foster a more supportive community.
“We had a strong plan last year, but with the economic uncertainty, we had no clue that we would have such a strong showing of support,” Handler said.
“This year, we did anticipate more based on the economic situation being better, but it’s also fair to say that the biggest driver of donations is the feeling of community, which was more difficult than usual to cultivate, and get a feeling about, this year.”
Joel Johnson, FirstBank East Valley Market President, agrees with Handler.
“In FirstBank’s nine years as the corporate partner of Arizona Gives Day, we continue to be amazed at how this community rallies around noble causes,” said Johnson.
FirstBank is the presenting sponsor for Arizona Gives Day.
“Even in the face of economic struggles, Arizonans will open their hearts and wallets to the organizations that make this place tick,” he continued. “We are truly humbled by the generosity put on display over the past month, and lucky to call Arizona home.”