The Big Payback hosted by The Community Foundation raises record $4.1M for Middle Tennessee nonprofits

Fifth Third Bank Senior Vice President Connie White, the bank’s Tennessee Regional President Mickey McKay and The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee President Ellen Lehman celebrate The Big Payback’s record $4.1 million giving day at Fifth Third Bank’s Big Reveal ceremony at Fifth Third Center. (photo by Morgan Yingling, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee)

Boosted by a record number of participating area nonprofits, The Big Payback’s sixth annual 24-hour online giving event Thursday helped raise a record amount of funds for the organizations. The Big Payback is a community-wide online giving day designed to give the public the opportunity to pay back the nonprofits that make this a place we are proud to call home. It was held on May 2.

In the Fifth Third Bank’s Big Reveal, the preliminary final amount totaling $4,106,182 came from 28,458 total gifts. The total includes funds raised and prize totals.

In its six-year history, The Big Payback has helped hundreds and hundreds of area nonprofits raise $16,606,182 in cumulative donations.

The event’s previous one-year record total was 2018 at $3,163,463.

A record 964 Middle Tennessee nonprofits (including schools and religious institutions) from 35 counties signed up to participate in this year’s The Big Payback, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“Not since the flood of 2010 has Middle Tennessee come together to make so many good things happen,” said Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation. “And isn’t it funny that it all happened in the hours of May 2—virtually the same day as our flood rains kept coming years ago.

“The fact is all of us owe a debt of gratitude to our nonprofits serving Middle Tennessee. We at The Community Foundation are honored to play a part in this vital and critical work.

“If you live here, you should give here.”

Starting at midnight on May 2 to the stroke of midnight, there were 24 hours to make donations to a wide array of participating local nonprofits at <TheBigPayback.org>.

There were 4,950 gifts made during this year’s giving day from donors who said it was their first gift to a particular organization. Through six years, 29,666 gifts have come from first-time donors to an organization.

“We are so very grateful for all the nonprofits, all the donors, and all the people and animals who will benefit from over $4.1 million raised in one 24-hour period, Lehman said. “It was record-breaking work that will have a positive effect on almost every county in Middle Tennessee in ways too numerous to mention.

“In 2014, the first year of The Big Payback, it was a leap of faith. Would our neighbors work together to improve and maintain our quality of life here?” Lehman said. “In the five years since, we have all come together to raise a total of more than $16.6 million for our community proving that this is truly an incredible place to live.”

This year’s record total of nonprofits included 118 organizations from 23 counties that were participating in The Big Payback for the first time. Categories included human services, education, community improvement, arts and culture, youth development, animal welfare, health, housing and shelter, and the environment.

The total was announced at Fifth Third Bank’s Big Reveal Party at Fifth Third Center. Games, live music from local favorite Matt Walberg, and food were part of the announcement celebration at Fifth Third Bank, a sponsor of The Big Payback.