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Play this March bracket and help charities be winners

It's competitive way to give to local nonprofits.

Americans love to fill out brackets this time of year. And most of us who try to forecast the outcome of a certain college basketball tournament wind up disappointed.

But there's another way.

Brackets for Good organizes friendly competitions between nonprofit groups in several metro areas around the U.S.

In each market 64 good causes are selected and paired up in a bracket that works like the college basketball one. You can help your favorite charitable group advance by making a donation – $1 contributed equals 1 point in the standings.

This year's giving started on Feb. 24 and each round lasts a week. On Friday evenings at 8 p.m. the winners are determined and the next round of competition starts. Find real-time results on the Twin Cities bracket here.

Competitors became partners

Brackets for Good started in Indianapolis in 2012 and last year was the first time they had a Twin Cites bracket.

The winning group was Spare Key, which helps families with critically ill children pay for housing costs. They raised more than $75,000 in donations, edging out the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association, which supports families of officers killed in the line of duty.

Brackets for Good says it was the highest-scoring final in any of the cities with competitions. And an interesting thing happened between the finalists: the groups started talking to each other and joined forces by creating a program that provides housing grants to Minnesota law enforcement families with ill or hospitalized kids.

Numbers

Brackets for Good says the total amount donated during last year's Twin Cities competition was $281,184.

This year whichever group wins the competition will get an extra $10,000 from an anonymous corporate sponsor.

You can donate here or see how the bracket is going here.

Note that a 4.7 percent credit card processing and administrative fee comes out of each donation. In addition, Brackets for Good charges a 30-cent fee for each donation.

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