Donors meet the Betty White Challenge by donating more than $13,000 to Santa Barbara Humane
Betty White’s life of animal advocacy inspired people donating to Santa Barbara Humane.
So much so that the nonprofit broke its record for the most donations in a single day Monday.
To the tune of $13,695.61.
And that’s before a match that will double the total to more than $26,000.
During Monday’s event on Facebook and Twitter (#BettyWhiteChallenge), donors around the world were asked to donate $5 to their favorite animal rescues or shelters. Santa Barbara Humane got the word out, and people donated money in honor of Ms. White to the nonprofit, which has animal shelters in Goleta and Santa Maria.
And the donations were made on Jan. 17, which would have been the 100th birthday for the actress known for “Golden Girls,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and countless other TV shows and movies. Ms. White, who died Dec. 31, left a legacy of laughter and animal advocacy (including anonymous donations to animal causes).
There were two parts to Santa Barbara Humane’s involvement.
“Part one, we were asking Santa Barbara County to step up to the Betty White Challenge and choose us,” Sofia Rodriguez, Santa Barbara Humane’s chief philanthropy officer, told the News-Press on Tuesday. “Community members, including our board members, stepped up and said, ‘We will match any gift of $5 made on Jan. 17.’”
And for part two, Santa Barbara Humane found a fun way to honor Ms. White.
“We thought Betty would get a kick out of it,” she said. “So we named each of our animals after one of her characters, like Elka from “Hot in Cleveland” or Rose from “The Golden Girls.’ We picked characters and gave them to animals (for that one day, Jan. 17), and it was a fun way to visit our website.”
There were plenty of character names to go around.
“There was a soap opera called ‘Santa Barbara’ in the 1980s. She had a role titled ‘Waitress’ in the script,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “So one of our animals was named ‘Waitress.’
“There was another old role from the 1940s. It was called ‘Phone Girl,’” Ms. Rodriguez said.
And animals were named after Ms. White’s more famous characters, including the man-chasing “Happy Homemaker” on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”: Sue Ann Nivens.
Ms. Rodriguez said the Betty White Challenge was both fun and a record-breaking success. She said it might become an annual event.
“I get goosebumps when I think about this,” Ms. Rodriguez said, referring to Ms. White inspiring more than $13,000 in donations. “I can’t think in my lifetime of any one person who’s had such an impact after her death on one cause as she did Monday.”