The group set a goal of raising $1 million in a 24-hour period. By 9:30 p.m., it had hit $875,678.
"Utahns are by far the most charitable people in the United States," said Fraser Nelson, executive director of the Community Foundation of Utah. "Last year, Love Utah Give Utah gave us a chance to demonstrate that generosity in a new way, a 24-hour online day of giving. More than 6,500 people across Utah raised an astonishing $800,000 for 357 charities in just one day. This year, we're hoping to blow the roof off that record, and help more than 400 organizations."
It was largely an online effort fueled by social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Most of the more than 5,000 donors who had contributed by midday Thursday went to www.loveUTgiveUT.org to make their donations.
Donors could pick from 198 small nonprofits, 117 medium nonprofits, 95 large nonprofits and 53 schools, colleges and universities. Charities included private schools, arts groups, animal shelters, a student newspaper, radio stations, outdoor groups, environmental organizations, police groups, shelters, military support groups, hospitals, disability advocacy groups and research organizations.
According to organizers, the concept behind the day of giving is that donors contribute to the causes that matter most to them. That can be their school, a favorite charity or a specific need. A minimum gift is $10, and contributions can be made using smartphones and tablets.
Trevor Murphy, of Friendemic, a social media engagement agency that was helping the effort, was one of several dozen people working at Love Utah Give Utah central at the Gallivan Center which was a first; last year the effort was organized from the Community Foundation of Utah's office.
"We have had a steady stream of people coming in and have seen a lot of donations," said Murphy. "It's been a lot of fun helping out a good cause. I was here at 7 a.m. … We are helping Love Utah Give Utah with the social media aspect of giving, using Twitter, Facebook and other Internet tools to spread the word."
Nelson said social media helps participating nonprofits connect with youth.
"This is a new way of giving," she said. "We have youth donors give online."
Katherine Fife, director of philanthropy for the Community Foundation of Utah, said volunteers were gathering at the Gallivan Center much of the day, where donors provided food and beverages and Friendemic had set up a live stream of known donations that had been made.
"People can go online and see their donation and the impact of that donation," said Fife.
Many Utah corporations encouraged their employees to log on to the website and are promising to match their donations. Flying J Management, for example, will match all employees' donations up to $50,000. Some $411,000 in matching grants already has been pledged this year by Utah businesses and citizens.
Other groups tried to gain visibility for the day of giving.
For example, Christmas Box International, a group that prevents child abuse and offers services to children who have been abused or neglected, was holding two honk-and-waves from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Volunteers worked the streets delivering lemonade, cookies and fliers through car windows. The events were held at the Salt Lake County Christmas Box House at 3660 S. West Temple and at the Ogden Christmas Box House at 950 12th Street.
How to donate
1 • Log on to www.loveutgiveut.org
2 • Search for a favorite cause or organization.
3 • Donate.
4 • Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4.
5 • Ask 16 friends to give, too.
Source: Love Utah Give Utah