In raising money for Gallatin Valley nonprofits, some philanthropists ran on a treadmill, while others went on a bird walk or grabbed a celebratory ice cream cone with friends.

Balloons fell from the balcony at the Rialto downtown and people danced and cheered as Bozeman Area Community Foundation executive director Bridget Wilkinson, organizer for the event, announced this year's grand total.

More than 4,600 people donated to causes they cared about in this year's Give Big Gallatin Valley, which raised about $1.3 million for local nonprofits in a 24-hour period from Thursday to Friday.

While the organization didn't meet this year's goal of $1.5 million, Wilkinson said the fact that the event went from raising $100,000 for 100 organizations in its first year in 2015 to more than $1 million for 194 organizations in 2019 was huge.

"That is something we never imagined taking place," she said.

She was also pleased with how many people donated — 4,659 people gave money as of Saturday afternoon. Considering Gallatin Valley's size, she said that number is significant, and aligns with the Bozeman Area Community Foundation's belief that anyone can be a philanthropist, she said.

Eagle Mount Bozeman, an organization providing quality therapeutic recreational opportunities for people with disabilities and young people with cancer, raised the most money during the event, at about $146,000. Big Sky Discovery was next, at about $109,000.

Getting more people participating in the event also helps nonprofits build relationships with community members, something that is especially important as the Gallatin Valley grows. People often worry that as Bozeman gets bigger, the city's sense of community will start to go away, Wilkinson said. Getting involved in local nonprofits can help combat that, she said.

The community is growing and nonprofits are being asked to increase their work in the community to meet greater demands, she said.

"I think we know that as the needs of our community grow, our nonprofits need to be keeping up," she said.

The event also encourages collaboration to help nonprofits succeed, she said. Before Give Big, there was no sector-wide effort to raise money for local nonprofits. Now, Give Big has been able to help organizations connect with volunteers and donors and work together.

"That's what this is all about — building community," she said. "That is success, far and away."

Abby Lynes can be reached at or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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