6th Annual 24-Hour Online Giving Event tops $16.6M over time

Boosted by a record number of participating area nonprofits, The Big Payback’s sixth annual 24-hour online giving event Thursday helped raise a record amount of funds for the organizations.

In the Fifth Third Bank’s Big Reveal, the preliminary final amount totaling $4,106,182 came from 28,458 total gifts. The total includes funds raised and prize totals.

In its six-year history, The Big Payback has helped hundreds and hundreds of area nonprofits raise $16,606,182 in cumulative donations.

The event’s previous one-year record total was 2018 at $3,163,463.

A record 964 Middle Tennessee nonprofits — including schools and religious institutions — from 35 counties signed up to participate in this year’s The Big Payback, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“Not since the flood of 2010 has Middle Tennessee come together to make so many good things happen,” said Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation. “And isn’t it funny that it all happened in the hours of May 2 — virtually the same day as our flood rains kept coming years ago.”

“The fact is, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to our nonprofits serving Middle Tennessee,” Lehman continued. “We at The Community Foundation are honored to play a part in this vital and critical work.

“If you live here, you should give here.”

The Big Payback is a community-wide online giving day designed to give the public the opportunity to pay back the nonprofits that make this a place we are proud to call home. Starting at midnight on Thursday, May 2 to the stroke of midnight, there were 24 hours to make donations to a wide array of participating local nonprofits at TheBigPayback.org.

There were 4,950 gifts made during this year’s giving day from donors who said it was their first gift to a particular organization. Through six years, 29,666 gifts have come from first-time donors to an organization.

“We are so very grateful for all the nonprofits, all the donors, and all the people and animals who will benefit from over $4.1 million raised in one 24-hour period, Lehman said. “It was record-breaking work that will have a positive effect on almost every county in Middle Tennessee in ways too numerous to mention.

“In 2014, the first year of The Big Payback, it was a leap of faith. Would our neighbors work together to improve and maintain our quality of life here?” Lehman said. “In the five years since, we have all come together to raise a total of more than $16.6 million for our community proving that this is truly an incredible place to live.”

Said Lehman, “On behalf of the participating nonprofits and those they serve, THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS AND SUPPORT. Good things will happen as a result.”

This year’s record total of nonprofits included 118 organizations from 23 counties that were participating in The Big Payback for the first time. Categories included human services, education, community improvement, arts and culture, youth development, animal welfare, health, housing and shelter, and the environment.

The total was announced today at Fifth Third Bank’s Big Reveal Party at Fifth Third Center. Games, live music from local favorite Matt Walberg, and food were part of the announcement celebration at Fifth Third Bank, a sponsor of The Big Payback.

Fifth Third Big Reveal
(From left): Fifth Third Bank Senior Vice President Connie White, the bank’s Tennessee Regional President Mickey McKay, and The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee President Ellen Lehman celebrate The Big Payback’s record $4.1 million giving day at Fifth Third Bank’s Big Reveal ceremony Friday at Fifth Third Center.

Congregation Micah led all organizations with $658,815 in donations from 25 unique donors, followed by: Nashville Public Library, $207,520 from 66 unique donors; Gordon Jewish Community Center, $202,642 from 14 unique donors; The Elephant Sanctuary, $110,674 from 1,227 unique donors; and Proverbs 1210 Animal Rescue, $72,885 from 111 unique donors.

Rounding out the top 10 fundraising organizations were: Martha O’Bryan Center, $55,285 from 40 unique donors; Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, $52,073 from seven unique donors; Freedom’s Promise, $48,310 from 138 unique donors; The Refuge Center for Counseling, $48,075 from 111 unique donors; and Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, $44,565 from 53 unique donors.

Gifts to nonprofits from the public were boosted with additional financial prizes from sponsors of The Big Payback, and an online leaderboard tracked donations in real time, both online and on digital billboards throughout the area.

This year’s incentive prize pool totaled about $250,000.

Also, 87 organizations mentioned having secured matching funds to encourage other donors and to amplify their giving. The value of the successful matching campaigns was not all reflected in the leaderboard totals.

Donors were able to search and select organizations based on mission, location and focus area, Donors also could support multiple nonprofits and make gifts of any size with ease, from $10 and up.

Tennessee Titans great Eddie George, Nashville Mayor David Briley, country star Naomi Judd, and Bluebird Cafe chief Erika Wollam Nichols were among local celebrities who appeared in videos promoting The Big Payback this year.

Nonprofits played games and competed for additional prize money at midday Thursday for The Big Payback’s annual Plaza Party in Smashville Plaza in front of Bridgestone Area, in partnership with the Nashville Predators Foundation.

The event followed on the heels of the Nashville Predators Foundation distributing 145 grants totaling $675,962, the largest one-time donation in the Foundation’s history, to Nashville- and Middle Tennessee-based community service and charitable organizations.

Well-attended The Big Payback rallies also occurred in Lebanon, Murfreesboro, and Columbia Thursday.

For a complete list of nonprofit giving totals and additional prizewinners, visit thebigpayback.org

About The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
The Community Foundation exists to promote and facilitate giving in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee and beyond. It does this by accepting gifts of any size from anyone at any time and by empowering individuals, families, companies, nonprofits, and communities to respond to needs and opportunities that matter. The Community Foundation works with people who have great hearts, whether or not they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect their intentions and goals. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit www.cfmt.org.