Nonprofits hope Minnesotans in a giving mood Thursday on Give to the Max Day

Published 5:48 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

By Estelle Timar-Wilcox, Minnesota Public Radio News

Thursday is the 15th annual Give to the Max Day. The annual event brings in tens of millions in donations to thousands of Minnesota nonprofits. Amid national trends of decreases in giving, organizers are hoping that totals this year stay close to previous years’ high levels.

The event has seen big changes since the pandemic, said Jake Blumberg, executive director of GiveMN, the organization behind Give to the Max Day.

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“There really was a major shift in digital giving through our platform and for Give to the Max pre- and post-pandemic, and we think that created almost a new floor for giving,” Blumberg said.

The pandemic marked a leap in the event’s donation amounts. Totals jumped from $20 million in 2019 to about $30 million in 2020 to a record $34.4 million in 2021.

Blumberg said 2021 was a standout year for a few reasons. More than a year into the pandemic, many people had had a chance to recover from some of the instability created at its start. Donors might have had more discretionary income on hand after more than a year of not spending it on things like travel.

But national data suggests that increase might have been temporary. Charitable giving dropped in 2022 after increases in the first years of COVID-19.

“I think it’s coming back down to earth to more expected levels,” Blumberg said.

GiveMN is still expecting a big year. Early giving started on Nov. 1, and Blumberg said it’s been above pre-pandemic levels and on track with the last few years.

He thinks there are more reasons Give to the Max Day has kept bringing in high totals since the pandemic. For one thing, he said more nonprofits are focusing on digital fundraising efforts now.

“Over the past couple of years … so many organizations [were] focusing more on digital giving strategies like Give to the Max, mostly because of the reality that the pandemic created for them,” Blumberg said. “Now they recognize the opportunity that digital fundraising really presents them, and they have much more of an infrastructure to go about pursuing it.”

During Give to the Max Day, GiveMN will distribute thousands in additional gifts to some participating nonprofits. Blumberg said that GiveMN expects to break the $300 million mark this year for the total amount of donations since the founding of Give to the Max.