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March Millions $1M donation matched in four days

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When the Otto Bremer Foundation committed to match up to $1 million in donations to southeastern Minnesota community nonprofits in the month of March, it may have underestimated how charitable donors would be.

In fewer than four days, the foundation's March Millions matching funds have been dispensed — the $1 million was spent as of Wednesday afternoon.

"It's going fast, which is great. We're thrilled about that," David Hakensen, a spokesman for the Otto Bremer Foundation, said in an interview early Wednesday, when about $280,000 in matching funds remained.

"In a campaign like this, there's always a burst of activity in the beginning," Hakensen added. "This has been strong for four days now, and that's really encouraging."

More than 100 nonprofit organizations in Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties are participants in the fundraising effort, and GiveMN is managing the campaign through its online platform.

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Though the matching funds have already run out with more than three weeks left in the campaign, Hakensen said there is incentive for donors to keep making contributions to the nonprofit organizations they support.

Each day during March Millions, a "Bremer Boost" is awarded to an individual donor who has made a donation that day. The daily boost adds $1,000 to the gift a particular donor has pledged.

In the first three days of March Millions, the Bremer Boost prizewinners have given an additional $1,000 each to Habitat for Humanity of Freeborn-Mower, to Grace Place of Winona and to Zumbro Valley Health Center of Rochester.

The deluge of donations early in the campaign has some nonprofit organizations already meeting or exceeding their fundraising goals.

LiveWell of Winona had raised more than $120,000 of its $125,000 goal as of Wednesday afternoon. The donations came in a range of sizes, from large gifts to donations of $10 or $20, according to Janneke Sobek, LiveWell director.

From large gifts to small, donors took advantage of the opportunity to have their gifts matched by the Otto Bremer Foundation.

"One of the things that I really liked about the marketing proposal that GiveMN gave, one thing they said was this is like the buy-one get-one, the BOGO, of charitable giving," Sobek said.

"I think that's very true — people like to give and to know that their money is going to make an impact in the community, and this is a way for them to really maximize that opportunity," he said.

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At the Olmsted Medical Center Regional Foundation, the pace of donations from the participating communities did not surprise Stacey Vanden Heuvel, vice president for marketing and philanthropy.

"It wasn't a surprise to us to see the outpouring of support and see this go as quickly as it has," Vanden Heuvel said. "We had heard that the folks at GiveMN thought it might be more measured out over the course of the month, but maybe they underestimated our community a little bit."

A final Bremer Boost on March 31 will award a $10,000 bonus to one donor's match, another reason for philanthropists to keep giving throughout the month, Hakensen said.

For more information on March Millions, see givemn.org/marchmillions or call 1-844-2GIVEMN (1-844-244-8366).

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