State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Community Rallies Behind 'Centre Gives' to Benefit Dozens of Area Charities

by on May 23, 2013 7:45 AM

Centre Gives, a 36-hour marathon fundraising challenge, is a runaway hit. The online event has raised more than $342,000 in less than 24 hours. And there is still time left to show your support.

The novel fundraiser is sponsored by Centre Foundation. Eighty-two charities are competing to "win" the most donations. Centre Foundation will give an additional $100,000 on a pro-rated basis. Groups that raise the most money get the biggest slice of that $100,000.

Some local organizations are already giddy over the funds that keep coming in. 

The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., is in third place with well over $18,000 by Thursday morning. Richard Biever, the theatre's executive director, said he couldn't be more thrilled. 

"It just speaks to how highly the community values The State Theatre. It's heartwarming. We feel we're an important part of the community," Biever said. 

"Last year we raised $21,000 before matching funds, which was much larger a total than any of us expected. We're very excited that we could repeat it, but you never know how it's going to go." 

Molly Kunkel, deputy director of Centre Foundation, said the inspiration for the 36-hour event came from similar events hosted across the country. Kunkel saw it as an opportunity to foster positive relationships throughout the community. 

Kunkel said Centre Gives fits nicely into the foundation's mission of "engaging and inspiring residents to work with and support local non-profits."

Jennifer Shuey, Executive Director of the Clearwater Conservancy, said after a great response last year, her organization is looking forward to the rest of this year's fundraiser.

"It's off to a great start. We're all glued to our computers," Shuey said. "We raised $27,900 without matching funds last year." 

By Thursday morning, Clearwater Conservancy had raised more than $17,000.

Since this is an online event, organizations are harnessing the power of social media to keep the funds coming their way. Biever said each organization is responsible for its own marketing and The State Theatre has strategized when to send out tweets and emails. 

"We want to keep it in front of people, but we don't want to overdo it," he said. 

Centre Foundation launched the event in 2012, as an all-online effort to support  charitable organizations in State College. The organization says Centre Gives raised about $525,000 in its first year. That includes $415,000 in donations plus $110,000 in matching funds and prizes provided by Centre Foundation.

Giving continues through 6 p.m. Thursday. To make a donation just visit the Centre Gives website. You can keep track of the top fundraisers on the website's leaderboard.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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