It was only one hour into this year’s 24-hour Omaha Gives charitable fund drive and Nancy Williams already felt like she had won the lottery.

At 1 a.m. Wednesday, Williams, president and CEO of No More Empty Pots, got an email: Her nonprofit, which fights food insecurity and promotes self-sufficiency, had received enough donations to win the first hourly prize of $1,000.

“It has been an incredibly graceful day,” Williams said. “I’m incredibly grateful.”

By late Wednesday afternoon, No More Empty Pots had raised more than $20,000 — enough to provide 5,000 individual meals to area residents and 375 bags of fresh farm produce through its Community Supported Agriculture program. The group’s goal for the fund drive had been a much lesser amount of $10,000.

More than 1,000 metro area nonprofits registered for the fundraiser, which focuses on small donations. This year, the minimum for donations was set as low as $1, down from the normal $10, so that it would be easier for people to participate given the hardships caused by the coronavirus.

Despite those hardships, or perhaps because of them, the fund drive this year has collected more than each of the last three years.

The charity drive raised $8,528,221 for local nonprofits.

“This is a tremendous response to the need in the community,” said Kali Baker, spokeswoman for Omaha Gives.

A record breaking 65,160 donations were made, an indication that people were giving to multiple organizations. The drive also broke records with number of participating nonprofits (1,010) and unique donors (23,375).

Baker, who is with the Omaha Community Foundation, said she wasn’t sure how the fund drive would go this year. After all, not only are people without jobs, but those with resources already had been donating heavily to local charities for the past two months since the coronavirus struck.

“It’s great to see this level of giving … after a tremendous amount of giving in the last two months,” Baker said. “That speaks volumes about our community.”


Our best staff photos of May 2020

Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Email: nancy.gaarder@owh.com

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