People were in and out of the Western Kansas Community Foundation offices on Main Street Tuesday morning at a frequency that perhaps nobody expected.

The increase in traffic was part of WKCF’s inaugural Match Day event, which gave area residents and organizations a chance to donate on “Giving Tuesday” to one of 13 Finney County nonprofits. The event was set up with the promise that a proportional percentage of $50,000 would be matched and granted to an organization based on what percentage of the donations that nonprofit received over the course of the day’s festivities.

So, for example, if Emmaus House received 30 percent of the day’s donations, it would also receive $15,000, or 30 percent of the $50,000 match pool.

And people weren’t skimping on individual donations, either. In-person donations were taken from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, and by noon, WKCF Executive Director Conny Bogaard said one donor already had given $10,000 to one of the nonprofits. Five hours into the 12-hour drive, at least $50,000 had been collected in in-person donations alone. Online donations were optional until midnight.

Participating nonprofits eligible for donations included Emmaus House, Finney County Community Health Coalition, Finney County Historical Society, Finney County Humane Society, Finney County Public Library, Finney County United Way, Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo, Garden City Arts, Garden City Family YMCA, High Plains Public Radio, Miles of Smiles, Russell Child Development Center, and St. Catherine Hospital’s Benincasa Hospitality House.

Each eligible nonprofit already has an endowment fund open with the WKCF, and Bogaard explained that all monies raised directly from donors on the day of the event would be given directly to the nonprofits, while matched funds, raised in advance from sponsoring donors, would be added to each organization’s endowment with a cap of $25,000.

Every hour of the 12-hour donation drive, a WKCF participant also drew a name from those who had donated during the previous hour, and that person was allowed to donate an additional $100 to another local nonprofit of their choice. Nonprofits that bring in the most donations also will be given an extra benefit. The nonprofit that collects the most donations will be awarded an additional $500, and $250 and $100 will be awarded to second and third place, respectively.

“I’m so excited about this,” Bogaard said, noting that the event promotes awareness of WKCF’s services to new donors. “This is our first time that we’re doing this, but we knew that other community foundations had done it with a lot of success.”

In 2016, the Hutchinson Community Foundation used a similar strategy and drew 1,376 donations from 729 donors totaling $213,401. With the addition of prize money and a $50,000 match pool of their own, $268,101 was raised for 35 participating Reno County nonprofits.

Lori Bower, president of marketing and communications firm BowerComm, has worked with WKCF for the last two years to raise public awareness of the organization’s services. BowerComm also helped HCF launch its Match Day event, and Bower said she’s glad the match pool reached $50,000 with 13 eligible nonprofits.

“We were thrilled,” Bower said. “Even to get a match pool of $50,000 is a big accomplishment, so they did a lot of fundraising in advance. Now to have that amount of money available to a relatively small amount of organizations is really amazing.”

Bower said Match Day events are common among community foundations, and Bogaard said she hopes to make the drive an annual tradition with more participating organizations and an even larger match pool.

“For us, it’s really fun to see how the community is coming together to support local nonprofits,” she said. “A lot of these organizations are already fundraising. It’s an ongoing effort. But to see people come together on this day in particular, which is also known as Giving Tuesday, that really shows me also that… even after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, there is still a lot of interest in giving back to the community, and that is the best thing I think of this effort.”

Debbie Foster, vice president of community relations for Golden Plains Credit Union, dropped by the WKCF office around noon to drop off her organization’s $500 contribution to the Finney County Public Library.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for organizations to help raise awareness for their causes and to get funds to help them with their causes and so forth, so it’s something that we feel very deeply about that we can help the organization and what they’re trying to do for the community,” she said.

Jessica Norton, executive director of FOLRZ, said the extra funding will help her organization pad the overhead costs at the zoo by covering the expenses of improvements and new exhibits.

“It’s hard. It takes awhile,” she said. “We do fundraising events, and this is just another extension of that for us. It’s going to help us moving forward with our next projects… Our goal is to improve the zoo for the community, and Match Day just helps us get closer to that goal a little quicker.”

And with the recent passage of the interlocal .3-cent sales tax hike, FOLRZ no longer has to worry about the expenses of new exhibits for primates and flamingos and a vet clinic. With the financing of those projects settled, the group can focus on their next project: a zoo merry-go-round.

Mackenzie Nix, director of Miles of Smiles, said her organization is thankful for the opportunity because it will make taking care of its horses a little easier.

“This helps us a great deal,” she said, explaining that caring for the horses used in the therapeutic program can be quite expensive. “I think it’s gone over well this year. I don’t think a lot of people thought it would do as well as it has done. This is great, and this is a great start for Garden City because we definitely need something like this.”

Contact Mark Minton at mminton@gctelegram.com.