Cattaraugus Gives Empire Animal

Volunteers with the Empire Animal Rescue Society, one of the top Cattaraugus Gives Prize winners and highest raisers, are shown with their Cattaraugus Gives yard sign while preparing for Tuesday’s campaign.

OLEAN — By the end of the Cattaraugus Gives campaign late Tuesday, nonprofits that included the Allegany Public Library knew they would be able to finance projects in a more timely manner.

For that matter, most of the 70 nonprofits that participated in the online, 24-hour fundraiser were overwhelming surprised with the response from community members, businesses and organizations that donated to them online.

Karen Niemic Buchheit, executive director of the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, which conducted Cattaraugus Gives, said the project raised raised $110,996 for nonprofits in the Cattaraugus region, tripling the final results of the 2018 program. This year’s funds represented donations from 841 donors throughout the community, including $12,000 in sponsorships from local businesses, individuals and the Foundation.

“Most of them hit their goal or went over it, it was amazing,” Buchheit said of the programs’ success. Buchheit said the Foundation not only led the effort to organize local nonprofits to raise funds in friendly competition, but also provided the online giving platform or website that was user-friendly for donors.

“Yesterday was a phenomenal day — like Christmas coming early,” Buchheit said. “The community support was nothing short of amazing. There are so many thanks to express, especially to all the nonprofits who came together to rally supporters and to our prize sponsors who provided such great incentives.”

Buchheit said she believes the hourly prizes awarded to nonprofits that acquired the most donations during specific hours built interest.

“There was a lot of motivation, people were really motivated this year, because we more than doubled our prize money” for the nonprofits, she continued. “Last year, we had $5,000 in prize money and this year we had $12,000 … we had a prize almost every hour.”

Buchheit said she believes staging the online giving campaign locally for the first time this year, as opposed to joining up with the now defunct New York Gives campaign last year, helped raise more funds.

“We were really motivated to do a lot more preparation because it was all on our shoulders,” she explained. “We weren’t part of the New York Gives … and knew it was pretty much up to us.”

Buchheit said the Foundation plans to stage the fundraiser again next year, but wonders how they’ll top this year’s bonanza.

“It was so phenomenal,” she remarked.

Tuesday was also a long day, but a beneficial day for all involved, she added.

“I know some of (the nonprofits) had real specific things, such as the Allegany library which is doing a renovation,” she commented. “This is going to help them because they had to get matching funds for a grant.”

In addition, the Olean Family YMCA was trying to raise funds for memberships for underprivileged children.

“The fact that they met their goal means they’re going to execute the whole project,” Buchheit stated. “I think this will give them the confidence to do it again next year.”

Buchheit said they would like to see even more participation for other parts of the county, as well, next year.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)