Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

$3,127,801

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

$3,127,801

Article excerpt

Sarasota Giving Challenge donations outstrip all other participating areas

SARASOTA

Cheers and sustained applause erupted when the clock struck noon Wednesday to mark a surprising conclusion to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County's 24-hour online "Giving Challenge."

Not only did the Community Foundation surpass its fundraising totals from last year in just two-thirds of the time, but the $3,127,801 it generated during the marathon made Sarasota the most generous place in the nation -- at least for one day.

As part of a nationwide nonprofit fundraiser affiliated with a drive called "Give Local America!," Sarasota surpassed Sacramento's leaderboard-topping $3,019,913.04 finish shortly after 11 a.m.

"I can hardly talk -- I cried earlier," said an emotional Roxie Jerde, Foundation president and chief executive. "This shows the power of a concentrated effort and what partnerships can accomplish. It's about so many people coming together."

Dan Gillett, whose Kimbia company designed the software that tallied the totals for the 115 communities participating in "Give Local America!," noted that several communities would complete their digital donation campaigns later Wednesday evening.

But he expected Sarasota's lead would hold.

At last count, more than $51 million had been raised for nonprofits across the nation.

"What's unique about Sarasota is the way the matching funds were handled in real time," Gillett said. "Each community has its own approach with how matching funds are distributed, but this is really working here."

The Giving Challenge was given a major shot of adrenaline on the front end by a $450,000 matching commitment from The Patterson Foundation, which triggered more than $1 million of donations just 19 minutes into the campaign on Tuesday.

Another $225,000 was posted by half a dozen other foundations to keep the momentum rolling.

Wednesday's big winner was the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation, which collected $73,960 with 561 unique donations. That foundation -- dedicated to addressing rare genetic abnormalities affecting less than 1,000 people worldwide -- was the Giving Challenge's top fundraiser in 2013 as well. …

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