Move over April Fools’, the first day of the month has been officially rebranded 401Gives in the Ocean State, and for good reason. Throughout yesterday, thousands of donors from Rhode Island and beyond came together to raise a total of $2,200,477 for local nonprofits during what’s become the state’s largest single day of giving. The generosity of the community helped the effort far surpass its $1.5 million goal.

In total, the funds raised are the result of 17,808 gifts made to 420 Rhode Island nonprofits in support of their work. Donations can still be made through April 3 at 401Gives.org.

“Those of us in the nonprofit sector tend to be an optimistic bunch, but I’m not sure anyone anticipated how far beyond our goal we would end up… two-million dollars is really an incredible outpouring of support,” said Cortney Nicolato, United Way’s president and CEO in a statement. “There aren’t enough words to thank everyone who made this possible.”

401Gives made its first-ever appearance in 2020, raising $1.3 million just two weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic that continues today, and which has strained nonprofits as the need for their services grew. It was created by United Way of Rhode Island to lift up the state’s nonprofit community through a unified day driven by the power of philanthropy.

“Nonprofits are vital to the overall health and wellbeing of our communities,” said Michele Lederberg, United Way board chair and interim president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island in a statement. “They help to keep our neighbors safe, warm and fed, care for our grandparents, teach our children, shelter our pets, and so much more. To see so many people rally behind them demonstrates the meaning of power in numbers.”

Among the highlights of 401Gives were 184 organizations raising more than $3,000, including 107 that topped $5,000 and 55 that exceeded $10,000. The Alliance of RI Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE) paced the day with receiving 369 gifts, while Foster Forward led the way in fundraising with $173,721.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center raised $76,311.85, finishing as the third highest fundraiser during 401Gives.

“It’s hard to believe that this is only the second year of 401Gives! Thanks to the incredible work of United Way of Rhode Island, 401Gives has already become a mainstay of philanthropy in Rhode Island in such a short time,” Heather Hole Strout, Executive Director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center said in a statement provided to What’s Up Newp.

“401Gives began in April of 2020 – a time when Rhode Islanders affected by the pandemic were first turning to nonprofits for support. This year was no exception: so much increased need remains across the board in Rhode Island, and in Newport County especially. I am thankful for this opportunity to engage existing supporters of the MLK through 401Gives’ exciting prize opportunities & matching grants, and for the opportunity to welcome more Rhode Islanders into the MLK family,” Strout said.” Because of the outpouring of support from Rhode Islanders, the MLK is able to continue providing more generous scholarships to Preschool, After School, and Summer Camp families than we ever have before; to bring our Mobile Food Pantry into neighborhoods throughout Newport County where access to healthy food is needed the most; and continue to provide socially-distant, engaging fitness and social programming to help older adults avoid isolation – among our many other program offerings.”

401Gives is powered by United Way and was supported by some of the state’s leading businesses and organizations, such as Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI, FM Global, Rhode Island Foundation, Hope Global, Centerville Bank, Cox, National Grid, and others. The day was also recognized with a Gubernatorial Proclamation by Governor Daniel J. McKee, marking April 1 in Rhode Island as 401Gives Day.

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Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.