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With plenty of time to spare, the sixth annual Give to Lincoln Day surpassed its previous donation record, hauling in more than $3.3 million by 7 p.m. Thursday.

"How far can we take this thing tonight?" asked an excited Barbara Bartle, president of the Lincoln Community Foundation.

The 24-hour fundraising event, hosted by the foundation, had raised $3.3 million from 13,700 donors for local nonprofits by 7 p.m. Thursday, more than a quarter of a million more than last year's rain-drenched Give to Lincoln Day.

More nonprofits participating in the event, an increased match from the foundation, better weather and ample media exposure helped contribute to the record-breaking day, Bartle said.

Most donations came in online through the foundation's revamped website, Bartle said. But nearly one-third were expected from in-person donations at the donation center, which joined 60 other booths that circled Tower Square on Thursday afternoon.

Games and live music livened the windy, packed square as potential donors and pedestrians examined a variety of booths, including one run by the Capital Humane Society complete with an adoptable 9-week-old kitten and fliers about the society's programs.

"As a nonprofit agency, we rely on the community for support," said Charleen Engberg, director of education and volunteers at the Capital Humane Society. "So it's wonderful that we have this day as a way to support the nonprofit of their choice and our programs." 

Bartle was happy to break the $3.3 million fundraising record set in 2015. 

The foundation will match nearly $350,000 in donations from a variety of supporters, a $50,000 increase from last year. 

"It doesn't matter if someone gives $10 or $10,000. Collectively, we do such a great job to support our nonprofits," Bartle said. 

By 7 p.m., the Food Bank of Lincoln had garnered the most donations out of the 365 nonprofits, with approximately $130,800 raised. Last year, the Pius X Foundation led with $133,527 in donations. 

Valeria Murphy came to Tower Square to represent St. Monica's Behavioral Health Services for Women, a Lincoln-area nonprofit that serves women struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues.

Murphy, the event coordinator at St. Monica's, which had raised around $34,000 by 7 p.m., said Give to Lincoln Day is one of the only ways the nonprofit can spread the word about its services.

"We don't have a budget for advertising, so when events like this can bring awareness to the community, it really helps us a lot," said Murphy.

While booths at Tower Square were only set up until 2 p.m., online donations will be accepted until midnight at

Dalyce Ronnau of Lincoln donated to the Girl Scouts and the Lincoln City Mission because of the role they play in the community.

"Nonprofits are very beneficial in providing services that no one else provides," Ronnau said.

According to Bartle, Give to Lincoln Day is an affordable fundraising option for nonprofits who don't have to spend a lot of money to advertise the event.

It's also a great way for people who might not normally donate to give back to the community, Bartle said.

"Today, everyone can be a philanthropist."

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On Twitter @zach_hammack.

Reporter Riley Johnson contributed to this story.



Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.

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