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Generosity continues to help define Middle Tennessee.

The Big Payback’s ninth-annual 24-hour online giving event ended Thursday night with donors contributing nearly $4 million for participating area nonprofits, according to a news release from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

This year’s amount — $3,960,365 in preliminary totals — came from 25,755 total gifts. The total includes funds raised and prize totals, with the exception of two post-event prizes: most improved and most creative.

There were 6,546 first-time donors, whose gifts to organizations new to them totaled $567,517. In a new event feature, 632 volunteers have pledged 25,130 hours.

In its history, The Big Payback has helped hundreds and hundreds of area nonprofits raise more than $29 million — $29,179,652 — from a total of 206,338 cumulative donations.

About 1,000 Middle Tennessee nonprofits — including schools and religious institutions — from 36 counties signed up to participate in this year’s The Big Payback, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“Kindness and generosity are two words that come to mind when I reflect on the last 24 hours,” said Michael McDaniel, CFMT Senior Nonprofit liaison and this year’s The Big Payback coordinator. “On behalf of the participating nonprofits and those they serve, we’re grateful to donors for making a vital investment to all of the participating nonprofits supporting the many needs in our communities. Good things happen as a result.”

The Big Payback is a community-wide online giving day designed to give the public the opportunity to pay back the nonprofits that serve in so many different ways.

Starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 4 and continuing to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 5, there were 24 hours to make donations to a wide array of participating local nonprofits at TheBigPayback.org.

 This year’s total of nonprofits included 79 organizations that participated in The Big Payback for the first time. Giving categories included human services, education, community improvement, arts and culture, youth development, animal welfare, health, housing and shelter, and the environment.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee led all organizations with $110,064 in donations with 983 unique donations, followed by: Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue, $107,249 with 857 unique donations; Wags and Walks, $90,115 with 666 unique donations; Global Sanctuary for Elephants, $87,824 with 837 unique donations; and Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, $87,165 with 385 unique donations.

Rounding out the Top 10 were: Freedom’s Promise, $80,284 with 149 unique donations; Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, $64,152 with six unique donations; Nashville Opera Association, $58,173 with 43 unique donations; Narrow Gate Foundation, $56,503 with 93 unique donations; and Global Outreach Developments International, $55,846 with 644 unique donations.

For a complete list of 2022 nonprofit giving totals and prizewinners, visit thebigpayback.org