Nonprofits rally for Colorado Gives Day
“I’m here for the $500,” one representative of a nonprofit organization said during a Wednesday gathering of charities intended to raise excitement for Colorado Gives, the online event where people around the state donate to community organizations.
Arvada-based Community First Foundation offered a total of $1,000 in a live drawing for the charities that showed up to the Third Street Center in Carbondale to collect yard signs and literature promoting the annual Colorado Gives Day Dec. 4.
YouthZone and Raising A Reader each walked away with $500 from the drawing. To win, the charity had to be present at the rally, planned as a way to encourage nonprofits to promote the giving day.
“Every dollar counts, so this $500 is a shot in the arm,” Robin Tolan of YouthZone said.
An estimated 32 nonprofits put their name in the hat for the drawing, which is a good percentage of the 47 local organizations, from Parachute to Aspen, that are participating in this year’s Colorado Gives Day.
Julie Olson, executive director of Advocate Safehouse and organizer of the Wednesday rally, said bringing the organizations together was the goal.
“I think it’s really important for nonprofits to work together to help raise money and awareness for our programs,” Olson said.
The website ColoradoGives.org, a program of the Community First Foundation, is like a marketplace for charities and is open year round. But on Dec. 4, the site promotes local charitable giving with a special $1 million matching incentive fund from First Bank and the Community First Foundation.
Since the first Colorado Gives day in 2010, the annual event has become the largest one-day online giving event, according to the organizers. The total raised for charities from the seven annual one-day events is more than $182 million.
Representing Colorado Gives partner First Bank, which donated $500,000 to the incentive fund, banking officers Kseniya Mamlin and Andrew Reed said at the Carbondale rally that the goal is to encourage people to “give where they live.”
In Denver and along the Front Range, Colorado Gives receives a lot of attention. But in the Roaring Fork Valley, it hasn’t caught on as much.
“First Bank is really new to the valley,” Mamlin said. The first branch in the area opened in 2012, after Colorado Gives Day had started, so the bank wasn’t pushing the giving day when it started. The bank has been instrumental in starting Mountain West Gives, the effort to get charitable organizations to participate in the giving day.
To be part of Colorado Gives, charities must go through an application and vetting process to ensure the charities are legitimate.
“You know your money is going to a legitimate nonprofit that is doing the work they say they’re doing,” said Sandra Hanson, director of development for Family Visitor Program.
The website also takes the fundraising burden off of the nonprofit. With hundreds of charities, and the ability to search by topic and location, donors can find nonprofits for the first time with ease.
“It’s sort of like shopping on Amazon,” Rick Blauvelt, executive director of Raising A Reader, said.
“It’s also kind of dangerous, because you find all kinds of charities you want to donate to,” Hanson said.
A potential danger of the site is that someone may log on to Colorado Gives to donate to one charity, but find another they would prefer to support instead. But that is not a concern for the nonprofits at the Carbondale rally.
“Philanthropy is great wherever people give,” Tolan said. “It’s a win-win for organizations to work together and build up community philanthropy over all.”
Hanlon said Youthzone’s Colorado Gives Day donations doubled in their third year participating, and hopes for $20,000 this year.
Blauvelt hopes for closer to $10,000, but agrees that promoting philanthropy helps all charities.
“The nonprofit community specifically is very collaborative, so if someone goes on and ends up donating to more of us than they might otherwise, that would be money well spent,” Blauvelt said.