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Monday, December 10, 2012 - 1:32pm

First 'Ga. Gives Day' A Mild Success

Organizers of the first-ever "Georgia Gives Day" last week say they hope to make it an annual tradition, but results of the statewide donation drive were mixed.

The idea was inspired by states like Minnesota, where "Give to the Max Day" earlier this year netted $16 million for nonprofits.

In contrast, the tally from Georgia’s coordinated 24 hours of giving last Thursday came to just under $800,000, though organizer Karen Beavor of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits said "it's hard to be disappointed."

It may not be an apt comparison. The drive in Minnesota was organized by a community foundation with some very large donors, Beavor said, "and if you look at like the top five donees, they each got $200,000."

The top recipients in Georgia were the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, which received about $13,000, followed closely by NewTown Macon, which works to revitalize downtown.

The latter may have benefitted from an extra boost, said Alex Edwards with the Community Foundation of Central Georgia.

"The Knight Foundation gave almost $75,000 [to us] to give away in prizes to the organizations in Macon and Milledgeville that received the most donations on Georgia Gives Day," Edwards said.

The website, is still accepting donations for more than 1,300 registered nonprofits across the state. Stragglers have pushed the tally above $800,000, but giving is at a trickle compared to last Thursday.

Beavor said next year they’ll probably start the campaign sooner, possibly early November.

"We did not [start earlier] this year just because of the elections," Beavor said, adding that doing so next year "would give us a longer tail on the giving season, [and] get us out of a lot of the Black Friday, sort of, melee."