Monday, July 10, 2017

How ColoradoGives.org Users Are Kind of Like Wonder Woman: 10 Years of Reliable Donations

By Lisa Lujan, Online Giving Coordinator


I have a confession: I really liked Wonder Woman when I was growing up. Not the super cool Wonder Woman you see now, I’m talking the spinning, stiletto wearing, cheesy music, 1970s Wonder Woman T.V. series starring Lynda Carter.

My brother, sister and I would run home to watch it, big 1970s glasses and all. Then we would pretend that just like Diana Prince – Wonder Woman’s alias – we too could fight injustice with our lasso of truth, shield bracelets and boomerang-like tiara. One of the best parts about Wonder Woman is she’s reliable. She’s there to help human kind no matter what. In that way, ColoradoGives.org and its users are kind of like Wonder Woman.

For the last 10 years, ColoradoGives.org has served as the online giving resource for givers and do-ers throughout our great state. Just like the way Wonder Woman uses her powers for the good of humanity, ColoradoGives.org serves as a resource to fuel the power of community for the greater good. It’s dependable, secure and features more than 2,000 nonprofits.

ColoradoGives.org’s superhuman strength hasn’t been achieved in a vacuum. It’s alongside our unstoppable givers and do-ers that ColoradoGives.org has achieved success with more than $200 million given through the site since its inception in 2007. Of particular note is that more than $8 million came through the site as recurring donations, helping more than 1,000 nonprofits receive reliable donations.

There will always be new technologies and areas of need in our communities. To that end, the  new ColoradoGives.org website launching in August not only has a new look and feel, but is created to better meet the needs of our community with improved responsive design, better social sharing abilities, easier navigation and much more.

Together our community has achieved great things, phenomenal things. By continuing to provide a reliable site where givers can provide both one-time and recurring donations, we can continue to face the obstacles in our path…providing help for humanity and hope for the future, just like Wonder Woman.


Monday, June 19, 2017

The 12th Man

10 Years of Powering the Givers
By Bryce Wilkinson, Senior Online Giving Specialist

The crowd could sense the opportunity, and they rose to their feet to chant and clap in unison. The 11 players out on the pitch heard their supporters and felt the energy, the power. That boost sent them forward, and soon the ball was in the back of the net, triggering deafening celebration. The crowd, the 12th man, had done their part in the stadium.

Dick's Sporting Goods Park is home to the Colorado Rapids soccer team.
Before I started attending soccer matches, I was skeptical of this notion of the 12th man. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it is the idea that the crowd, through its support and energy, can act as another player on the pitch – a 12th man – for the team.

Since becoming a supporter, I’ve witnessed the role the crowd plays and they can truly be a deciding factor. The 12th man is more critical than the term might imply. Without them, the stadium, no matter how nice, is dull and empty. Without them, the players' efforts are diminished. Without them, there is no community, no energy, no power.

Community First Foundation built ColoradoGives.org 10 years ago, and it has become our state’s stadium of giving. A place where the community gathers to support their hometown nonprofits: those organizations out on the figurative pitch working hard to defend, attack, assist and score every day. But the site and nonprofits are nothing without you, our beloved 12th man.

We are celebrating 10 years of powering people like you who rally to support their favorite causes at ColoradoGives.org. Like any great fan base, your support is multifaceted: you amplify generosity with Giving eCards, you set up recurring donations, you start fundraising pages and you join the Colorado Gives Day movement.

Whatever the method, you power these nonprofits on as the 12th man. You cheer and chant. You expend and encourage. You smile and cry. Deep down you know every little bit helps; every voice, every hand. We can do it. We will do it. Together. And we celebrate, together.

Thank you for 10 great years of powering generosity in Colorado.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

10 Years of Giving Where You Live

By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist

Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist, wears give glasses and an orange hat to celebrate Colorado Gives Day 2016

Give Where You Live. I love this catchy phrase because it distills a compelling message into just four short words. We use this message to get people thinking about their communities and what they love about them.

At Community First Foundation we’re celebrating the 10th Anniversary of local giving through ColoradoGives.org. This online giving website has facilitated more than $200 million in donations in the last ten years. Nonprofits in every county of the state have benefitted from Coloradans heeding the call, “Give where you live.”

Learning about the troubles around the world can be overwhelming. But I know I can do something in my own small world, in my own small way.

For me that means teaching English as a Second Language and donating to arts and environmental organizations in my town. My favorite arts organizations are those that open a window to other cultures and perspectives through theater and film.

As part of our 10th Anniversary celebration this week, we’re asking people to think more deeply about why they love where they live.

Visit our Facebook page from June 12-June 16 and let us know what you love about where you live. You’ll have a chance to win a $50 Giving eCard to donate to any of the nonprofits profiled on ColoradoGives.org.

Even more exciting, you’ll be able to use the eCard on our new and improved ColoradoGives.org website, coming in August.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

10 Years of Online Giving

By Samantha Barlow, Communications Coordinator

The staff at Community First Foundation enjoyed this delicious lemon cake for our 10th Anniversary of ColoradoGives kickoff party. Yes, it’s been 10 years since we launched the online giving site with just 60 nonprofits profiled. Thanks to impressive community engagement, the site now features more than 2,000 organizations.

Ten years ago, people were just starting to dip their toes into online banking and financial transactions. Creating this site helped us strengthen organizations that didn’t have the resources to accept online donations. With no setup or monthly maintenance fees, ColoradoGives.org is very affordable. The only fee – two percent – is used to cover third-party vendor charges for credit card and electronic check processing.

The 10th Anniversary of ColoradoGives.org marks an incredible milestone. ColoradoGives.org has powered over $200 million in donations to more than 2,000 nonprofits since its inception. Over the past decade, the program has grown in exciting ways:

2007 :  CommunityFirst Foundation launches ColoradoGives.org
2010 :  The first Colorado Gives Day raises $8.4 million
2013 :  New Regional Champions program spurs giving throughout the state
2016 :  New Kids for ColoradoGives program introduces kids to giving
Aug. 2017 :  New website!


Happy Birthday, ColoradoGives.org!
ColoradoGives.org is turning 10, but we are giving you, our community, the present. Incorporating the feedback that we have heard from our donors and nonprofits, we are launching a new and improved website in August designed to make online giving easier and more fun!

ColoradoGives.org will continue to provide comprehensive, objective and up-to-date information about Colorado nonprofits. It will also feature fresh photos and graphics, improved functionality and donor-inspired navigation.

Other new website attributes include:
  • Easier navigation
  • Improved, responsive design
  • More concise, easy to navigate nonprofit profiles
  • Better social sharing capabilities

So mark your calendars for August to come and check out the new website!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Success on Colorado Gives Day – Estes Medical Center Foundation’s Secret Sauce

By Kevin L. Mullin, MNM, CFRE, Executive Director of Estes Park Medical Center Foundation

On Colorado Gives Day 2016, Estes Medical Center Foundation experienced a 250 percent increase in dollars raised over the previous year. With a new executive director from out of town and only one staff member, how did they do it? Executive Director Kevin Mullin shares the “secret sauce”…

Like many organizations, the Estes Park Medical Center Foundation (EPMC Foundation) is always looking for ways to increase donations for Colorado Gives Day. In the robust nonprofit community in Colorado, there are many groups doing important work and often vying for the same philanthropic dollars. In order to succeed in 2016, we knew we needed to give donors a compelling case for support and to engage more prospects.

The Estes Valley is comprised of people who are not unfamiliar with adversity. Fires, floods, impassible roads and other calamities seem to befall the area on a regular basis. The good part is that this creates a community where people possess strength. People in Estes are “Mountain Strong.” Although a task may seem big or perhaps insurmountable, there is a focus on developing a strategy to get it done. With that, the board and staff got to work. 

One of the critical parts of our effort last year was to focus primarily on a project that people could endorse. Although EPMC Foundation can always use unrestricted money, we decided to promote a priority project: replacing the Infant Security System in the New Life Center. Offline support for the project was strong, and we decided to parlay that into online backing. We translated the project into a digital campaign for Colorado Gives Day; however, having a good project was only half of the equation. It was critical to raise awareness of the need – including among people who are not EPMC Foundation donors. We call them “future donors.”

We executed a strategic marketing plan, one that called for wide social media promotion on Facebook and the EPMC website. In addition, a partnership with the Estes Park Trail-Gazette enabled the campaign to get print advertising that drove prospects to the Colorado Gives Day website. We contacted past Colorado Gives Day donors and other prospects using a four-part email appeal, beginning three weeks before Colorado Gives Day.


EPMC Foundation was able to sustain a large increase year-over-year on Colorado Gives Day, but the secret is there was no special sauce. It happened because staff and board members worked hard to keep the message out in the community and communicate the good work that EPMC Foundation does – and this must be done all year long. It is very difficult to be invisible throughout the year, and suddenly appear in December and raise a lot of money.  What happens in December is typically a direct result of the work done from January through November. EPMC Foundation is grateful for the team at the Community First Foundation. Their work to develop the ColoradoGives online platform has been a big boost to the organizations in the Estes Valley.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Know Your Data, Know Your Donors

By Lisa Lujan, Online Giving Coordinator

My heart sank as I read the thank you letter. It was addressed to me, when I had hoped it would be addressed to my four-year-old who had specifically chosen an organization as  “her” nonprofit to give to on Colorado Gives Day. I had even left details in the special instructions section detailing my daughter’s involvement and her name. She would’ve been so excited to get mail addressed specifically to and thanking her! Talk about a great opportunity to begin a life-long relationship. Alas, that is not what happened. Which brings me to the point of this blog: do you know your donors’ data?

The ColoradoGives program at Community First Foundation has declared 2017 “The Year of Thanking Donors.” You can take donor appreciation to the next level by intimately understanding every donation you receive. In the Donation Information section of your ColoradoGives profile, you can pull an Excel report 45 columns worth of  information. Here are the sections you shouldn’t miss (although I would argue all of the columns should be looked at):

  • Special Instructions or Comments: simply put, donors can literally type anything here, from where  they  want their money directed to whether another donor is associated with the donation (say, a daughter). If you read nothing else, read this column.
  • Campaign Name: this column tells you who gave through certain fundraising pages, a critical piece of information for growing a relationship (is the donor a friend of a staff member, a board member or a volunteer)?
  • Recur Every: if there is information in this column, then this donor has either scheduled a one-time donation or created a recurring donation to your organization. Be sure to look at the details in the subsequent columns, including the starting and ending parameters.
  • Donation For: here you can see if a donation was made in honor or memory of someone; this is especially important if the donor wants you to send a physical note to that person (which can be found in the columns “Donation for Note Sent” all the way through to “Donation For comment”). If it says “Physical Note” in the “Donation for Note Sent” column, it means that the donor is asking you to mail a physical letter indicating a donation was made in honor/memory of someone. If it says “Email,” that means our system has automatically sent the person an email.
  • Consider This Donation for Child Care and/or Enterprise Zone Tax Credit: these critical columns only apply to organizations offering  Colorado State Tax Credit(s) that have also elected to present questions related to tax credits on their donation form. Unfortunately, these columns are sometimes ignored or missed (you might be surprised by the number of calls we get from donors about this). Here, donors indicate interest in receiving a tax credit for their donations. Even if their donations do not qualify for the tax credit(s), it is imperative that you follow up on this information. (If your nonprofit has selected any response other than “None” to the question “Does Organization qualify for a tax credit?” on its profile,  tax acknowledgment letters must come from you, regardless of whether you display additional questions related to tax credits on your donation form or the determination your nonprofit makes with regard to whether a particular donation qualifies for the tax credit(s) or not).

If the old adage “knowledge is power” has any truth to it, then knowing your donors and their donations is certainly worth the effort. In a recent survey to nonprofits, we learned that 93% of nonprofits receive gifts from first-time donors on Colorado Gives Day – what a perfect opportunity to help those first-time donors become second-time donors by not only thanking them, but by using the information they provided to thank them to the best of your ability.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Classmates, Kittens and Kids for ColoradoGives

By Samantha Barlow, Communications Coordinator

When nine-year-old Jenna received a $20 Giving eCard to use on KidsforColoradoGives.org, she did something remarkable. Rather than donate this money straightaway, she took it to her school so her classmates could join her in experiencing the joy of giving.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Jenna. “We learned about all the charities around here in Colorado. We had no idea there were so many!”

Jenna received the Giving eCard from a Community First Foundation board member, Janet Heck Doyle. The Foundation recently launched KidsforColoradoGives.org, an online giving site for kids.

“I thought a lot about who to give the eCard to since I don’t have young kids,” said Janet. “I knew Jenna from the Rotary Club and thought, ‘What better way to use this than to introduce her family to the site?’ Little did I know it would mean introducing a whole classroom to KidsforColoradoGives.org.”

KidsforColoradoGives.org is a kid-friendly companion site to ColoradoGives.org, a popular local giving website nearing its tenth year. KidsforColoradoGives.org features videos narrated by kids that explain the purpose of nonprofits, why they need donations and how to choose one to support.

In class, Jenna’s teacher, Mrs. Langowski, helped the students narrow their focus to animal organizations in their neighborhood. The students let out a collective “Aww” when Mrs. Langowski pulled up Evergreen Animal Protection League on the website. “It had pictures of kittens and puppies and everyone was pretty much hooked,” said Jenna.

Jenna donated again with her mom, Mendhi, later that evening. “Jenna has a big heart for animals and the environment,” said Mendhi. “Kids for ColoradoGives is showing her how to get involved now, but it’s also giving her ideas for what she could do when she grows up.”


Kids for ColoradoGives is a memorable activity for families to introduce children to the joy of giving. You can purchase Giving eCards for children in your life to redeem on KidsforColoradoGives.org.