Midstate nonprofits have fingers crossed for Georgia Gives Day

Thanksgiving may come a little early for nonprofit organization across the midstate Thursday during Georgia Gives Day.

More than 1,200 organizations -- including 155 in Middle Georgia -- could see a boost in donations during the third annual event.

Created by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, the charitable effort raised more than $1.4 million last year, while midstate nonprofits earned about $120,000. The state total was an improvement of 85 percent from the previous year.

Those involved with Georgia Gives Day want to see that trend continue.

“Our goal is to increase the giving as much as possible,” said Emily Morgan, an associate with the Community Foundation of Central Georgia.

The way Georgia Gives Day works is relatively simple: Patrons looking to make a donation search for a particular charity on the www.gagivesday.org website and donate to that charity.

People can search for specific nonprofits to see if they are listed. Also, people can search various groups, such as arts-related organizations or animal rescue groups, to see which nonprofits are participating.

Several incentive prizes will be given away Thursday to nonprofits that hit certain benchmarks.

The Community Foundation of Central Georgia is offering prizes to organizations based in Bleckley, Butts, Coffee, Crawford, Dodge, Houston, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Laurens, Monroe, Peach, Pulaski, Spalding, Taylor, Twiggs, Upson and Wilkinson counties in various categories.

Among those prizes are the Golden Ticket, in which donations made during a specified time frame will be entered into a drawing for a $500 prize; the Power Hour, in which the organization that receives the greatest number of donations during a specified hour receives a $500 prize; and the Donor Dash, in which the organization that receives the most distinct donations receives a $2,000 prize.

There will be other prizes, too, including one for whichever organization receives a donation from the farthest ZIP code and another for the organization that has its unique hashtag tweeted the most on the social media website Twitter.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation also will be providing prize money in Bibb and Baldwin counties for a similar set of criteria.

Last year, the Jay’s HOPE Foundation raised nearly $3,000 on Georgia Gives Day thanks to contributions and winning its share of prize money, said Christie Johnson, the organization’s community relations coordinator.

“I love (the day) because of the awareness factor and letting people know what nonprofits do in the community,” she said. “It helped bring in some new donors.”

Money raised from Georgia Gives Day will help the organization’s family support program.

Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia will be participating for the first time. Wendy Thompson, director of development, said it’s the first time the organization thought it had the resources in place for the fundraiser.

“I’m really excited about it,” she said. “This is a new path for us. I’m looking forward to a good outcome.”

Several midstate organizations and volunteers will meet at the Armory Ballroom from 5-7 p.m. Thursday to celebrate Georgia Gives Day.