Nonprofits in Centre County wait all year for the chance at a good-natured competition for charity dollars, an annual May event called Centre Gives.
On Tuesday, that race hit a hurdle when the computer system that makes the whole thing work developed a hiccup.
According to Centre Foundation development director Irene Miller, “Things were tripping along great” in the morning.
But in the afternoon, the website started to slow to a crawl. When it came to a grinding halt, it had taken in $172,000 from 1,256 gifts.
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The Centre Foundation wasn’t the only one hit.
Kimbia runs the computers that keep similar giving events across the country bringing in the bucks.
“Our staff is in constant communication with the people at Kimbia, our website vendor, regarding the CentreGives.org website technical issues. We are committed to making Centre Gives the most impactful community giving event possible for Centre County and will consider all options going forward in order to accomplish that goal,” said Miller.
On Tuesday, the impact was broad.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the Big Day of Giving came to “an online standstill” around noon (that would be 3 p.m. in Centre County) when the site froze.
Sacramento had more than 500 organizations using its portal for the charity challenge. The Centre Foundation has 124 competing for a stretch pool of another $100,000 in cash, plus two $125,000 prizes.
Problems are also being reported in Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Seattle, St. Louis and other cities.
Miller says her group may be in better straits than some of the others.
“Most of them are 24-hour challenges,” she said. “Ours is 36 hours.”
Centre Gives runs through 6 p.m. Wednesday, giving the Centre Foundation more time to help its participating groups find other ways to donate, or to see the problem rectified.
Could that even mean the deadline gets extended?
“We haven’t taken anything off the table,” Miller said.
But for now, the solutions are a little more low-tech, going back to the old telethon staple of a telephone.
“Donors are welcome to call our office at 814-237-6229 if they have any questions or would like to make a donation over the phone,” said Miller. “The local nonprofit network is incredibly resilient and has rallied in the face of this technical difficulty. We are so thankful for their patience and flexibility as we move through these issues.”
The technical glitch is not lessening the Centre Foundation’s commitment to the event.
“We had four good years. This was our first problem,” said Miller. “This is such an unfortunate incident, given how hard the 124 participating nonprofits worked to prepare for Centre Gives and how passionate community members are in their support of this event. On behalf of our entire staff of five, we apologize for this issue and cannot emphasize enough how much we are looking forward to this issue being resolved as quickly as possible.”