Give Big Kern raises $173k, thousands of volunteer hours pledged
May 5, 2016

This story originally appeared in The Bakersfield Californian. Read it here.

The greater Bakersfield community donated more than $173,000 Tuesday during Give Big Kern, a one-day fundraising event that drummed up money for the county's nonprofit organizations.

Almost 900 donors gave money to 104 different charities during the inaugural event and pledged nearly 74,000 volunteer hours, Kristen Barnes, executive director of the Kern Community Foundation, said.

“Overall, we're thrilled with the results,” Barnes said.

Marleys Mutts Dog Rescue, which rehabilitates, trains and re-homes “death row” dogs from Kern County's high-kill animal shelters, raised the most funds Tuesday, taking in $12,200 – more than double what the second-ranking organization generated.

Much of that money will go toward spaying and neutering dogs, said Kristin Brutoco, an outreach coordinator at Marleys Mutts. 

“We definitely felt like this was close to our hearts and I think also people really care about the cause,” Brutoco said, adding that the organization set out a goal of raising $10,000. 

Barnes credits the organization's success in fundraising to its vast social media following. Marley Mutts' Facebook page has more than 530,000 “likes.”

“They really have social media down better than most in Kern, and that’s one of the eye-opening things to us. We really need to do a lot more work in building skills for nonprofit partners to be able to really use social media in the most effective way,” Barnes said.

Barnes laid out lofty goals at the outset of the fundraising initiative, telling nonprofit partners that she hoped they would be able to count themselves among Orange County, Sacramento and Silicon Valley, which led similar single-day fundraising events and raised millions.

Despite not coming close to those figures, Barnes said, the event provided much needed visibility to Kern nonprofits and positioned them for a better run at next year's planned event.

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