401Gives Day to be weekend affair this year, looks to raise $4.01M for nonprofits

PROVIDENCE – The largest single-day philanthropic event in Rhode Island will get a bit bigger this weekend, hopefully reaching more lofty goals in order to support local nonprofit organizations.

United Way of Rhode Island will hold its fourth annual 401Gives Day starting Friday at 6 a.m., with a twist. Along with the event traditionally welcoming donations through 401Gives Day’s online portal at 401Gives.org, this year’s event will be its first “Weekend Edition” running all the way through April 3 where the festivities will go beyond just being on a computer or phone screen.

United Way CEO and President Cortney Nicolato told Providence Business News the organization last year received a lot of good feedback from nonprofits since last April 1 was on a Friday and the giving timeframe was left open another day. Since this April 1 falls on a Saturday, Nicolato and United Way staffers felt it would be even more beneficial for 401Gives Day be a weekend affair, she said.

“What better way to do that than having this as a weekend celebration,” Nicolato said.

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To date, close to $7 million have been raised for local nonprofits since the event launched on April 1, 2020. Each year, the amount of funds raised have increased by a little more than $1 million from the previous year.

Other organizations, such as the Papitto Opportunity Connection, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Foundation, will also be offering nonprofits matched donations throughout the event. Unlike in the past when the matches were delivered right at 6 a.m., Nicolato said the matches will be given at different points during the weekend to offer nonprofits a variety of opportunities for their gifts to be matched.

Nicolato said this year’s 401Gives Day will also for the first time include in-person events throughout the state. For instance, there will be on April 1 a WaterFire in downtown, which Nicolato describes it as being “one big party” recognizing the event and the nonprofit community. Rhode Island Energy will sponsor the lighting event.

In South Kingstown, Audrey’s Coffee House & Lounge will host social media influencer Jared Haibon and his wife, Ashley, for an event supporting 401Gives Day. The Providence Bruins during its April 1 game at the Amica Mutual Pavilion will promote 401Gives Day, including providing QR codes to encourage people to donate from the game, Nicolato said. Also, Children’s Friend & Service is holding a kick-off party Friday at the Narragansett Brewing Co.’s new brewery in Providence from 5-9 p.m.

“This day is about a celebration of the state, and it’s a celebration of all things Rhode Island,” Nicolato said. “We want to make it just that. My hope is that folks will feel the presence of it, even more than they already have. Having a physical presence is something we always wanted to do.”

Like last year, 401Gives Day has set a goal of raising $4.01 million – the number signifying both Rhode Island’s area code and the numerical date for April 1. Nicolato said she feels good about that goal can be attained given there will be various in-person events across the Ocean State in addition to online contributions.

Numbers are already relatively high for 401Gives Day. As of Wednesday, 576 organizations have signed up – 150 of which are participating for the first time – in the hopes of receiving contributions to help with their respective programming initiatives and operations. Last year, 507 nonprofits benefited from the event, receiving $3.1 million in total contributions from the community.

What Nicolato loves about this year, she says, is the nonprofits that signed up for 401Gives Day are “putting so much into it.” Some nonprofits she said are using the event as their primary fundraising campaign drive or wrapping their events around 401Gives Day.

Children’s Friend, according to Nicolato, recently did a “thank you telethon” offering the public its gratitude for donating to the organization last year – and asking the public for more support this year. Nicolato also heard that Foster Forward already worked to set up more than $100,000 in donation matches for the day.

“We’ve said all along that 401Gives Day is what you make of it,” Nicolato said. “We’ll give the technology and the tools and marketing. But, it’s really how the nonprofits take it and run with it. What I’m seeing is they’re doing that in incredible ways even more than last year. That’s the fun part of 401Gives Day.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.