GARDEN CITY — Even in the midst of a post-lunch slow spot, a revolving door of donors circulated through the Western Kansas Community Foundation for Match Day Tuesday, casting their donations in a room full of representations of their favorite local and area nonprofits.
Last year's inaugural Match Day distributed over $163,000 to local nonprofits, including the $50,000 match pool and $2,050 prize mini-grants. Conny Bogaard, the foundation's executive director, said that by noon Tuesday, a little over five hours into the all-day 2018 event, in-person donors already had doubled last year's total.
Match Day, entering the second of its three-year trial run, is an annual bulk fundraiser for area nonprofits organized by the WKCF in the spirit of Giving Tuesday. This year partnering with the Wichita County Community Foundation, the event has more than doubled in scope since 2017 regarding the number of organizations alone.
Locals handed over donations to different nonprofit drop-off points in Garden City and the community foundation office in Leoti, submitted them online until midnight or dropped them off at the foundation's office from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Many also entered their names into hourly drawings at the foundation in Garden City, the winners of which would be able to decide which nonprofit would receive one of several $100 mini-grants.
Donors bustled through the office at all hours, donating to organizations they had been involved with or that meant something to them. Several offered nonprofits support in other ways throughout the year, but were glad to contribute on a day that had a little extra weight.
"With fewer and fewer state funds going to these organizations, this kind of activity to bring in more dollars for them is very important. Garden City is pretty unique. We're a real giving community ... I would say we're pretty strong in that aspect," said Melinda Hitz, a donor and Match Day volunteer.
Conservative early numbers showed that well over 300 people had submitted donations at the Garden City office alone, Bogaard said, including many new donors. Last year, 280 donors participated.
It was "a truly wonderful collaborative effort of giving," she said -- one based not on competition but community outreach.
The name aside, Match Day is not built on doubling donations but giving nonprofits a piece of a $50,000 pie, a "match pool" the community foundation offers thanks to local sponsors. Once numbers are finalized, the $50,000 will be divided among nonprofits' endowment funds at the foundation in proportion to their percentage of the total amount of the day's donations, the largest portion capped at 50 percent.
Every cent donated to an organization goes to that organization, but, on top of that, the more it raises, a bigger slice of the match pool it gets.
Participating nonprofits include the Community Betterment Fund, Dr. Stephen Meyers Fund, Emmaus House, Finney County Community Health Coalition, Finney County Historical Society, Finney County Humane Society, Finney County Public Library, Finney County United Way, Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo, Garden City Arts, Garden City Family YMCA, Garden City Public Schools Foundation, High Plains Public Radio, Leadership Garden City, Leave a Legacy Foundation, Miles of Smiles Therapeutic Horsemanship, Mosaic, Russell Child Development Center, Shepherd of the Plains Foundation of Cimarron, St. Catherine Hospital's Benincasa Hospitality House, Women of Purpose Fund, Happy One of Leoti, Hearth Strings to Purse Strings, Wichita County 4-H and Fair Fund, Wichita County Economic Development, Wichita County Health Center and Wichita County Whole Health Fund.
Last year's Match Day funding helped propel the YMCA's dome project and was wrapped into Finney County United Way's annual fundraising campaign, Bogaard said. It offers support to organizations that serve both individual cities and the wider region, she said, and is a huge help to struggling nonprofits like Emmaus House, which lacks the staff and resources to hold a fundraiser of a similar scale.
Organization leaders said they signed on to raise money for operating costs and services both upcoming or in place.
"I think some of those ideas and wishful thinking plans can become real with this type of money," Bogaard said. "Sometimes, it's programs that's hard to write a grant for. Because you cannot write a grant for salaries. You cannot write a grant for building projects. Grantmakers don't fund that. And with Match Day, you can use the money that you receive for anything you want."
All participating organizations must establish a trust with the foundation, and several, including Leave a Legacy, Spirit of the Plains CASA, Mosaic in Garden City and the Shepherd of the Plains Foundation in Cimarron joined this year because of or partially because of Match Day, Bogaard said.
CASA needed money to cover basic operations, train volunteers to serve more children and tend to its new space at Fulton Terrace, said Robert DeLeon, the local nonprofit's executive director. Vickie Harshbarger, community relations officer at Mosaic, said the funds would help the organization cover services to their clients with intellectual disabilities, including closing gaps in medical coverage.
Last year, funds from Match Day allowed the Finney County Humane Society to hold new vaccination and spay and neuter clinics and contributed to necessary medical costs, said Director Nikki Spanier.
"We'll be able to continue it next year with all the funds that we get from (the 2018 Match Day)," Spanier said of the clinics.
The number of participating nonprofits this year jumped from 13 to 28, including six in Wichita County and one in Gray County. The increase means the $50,000 match pool has to be stretched across more budgets, but Bogaard said the money and event can still go a long way.
The organization that brings in the majority of donations still will walk away with an additional $25,000, she said, and Match Day itself offered a lot of exposure to those participating. She said all organizations advertized Match Day to some extent, she said, and that meant more potential donors.
"It's kind of a snowball effect, I think, where everybody benefits from more people. They may get a smaller portion of the matching dollars but they can still receive," Bogaard said.