Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Magic of Marketing

By Kayla Arnesen, Director of Marketing & Strategic Communications

Last December, did you tweet about #COGivesDay? Did you post a yard sign? Did you share a ColoradoGives news story with a friend? If you did, then thank you for being part of Colorado Gives Day’s marketing magic!

Colorado Gives Day is more than just a day, it’s a statewide movement to inspire giving. One of the greatest benefits of being a ColoradoGives nonprofit in December is being able to market your organization as part of the state’s largest day of giving.

At Community First Foundation, the marketing and communications team worked to elevate excitement for Colorado Gives Day to a fever pitch leading up to December 6, 2016. The results were outstanding: generous donors gave $33.8 million to more than 2,000 nonprofits on ColoradoGives.org.

We wanted to share a few fun highlights! Media relations and community outreach from August to December 2016 resulted in:
  • 759 news stories for a total potential reach of 373 million individuals. 
  • Colorado Gives Day trended locally on Twitter for most of the day. In the morning, #ColoradoGivesDay was the top trend in the Denver region. In the afternoon, #COGives was the trending hashtag. 
  • 657 users visited the ColoradoGives blog 880 times. These users generated 1,397 total website page views (947 unique page views).
  • 500 Colorado Gives Day yard signs were posted across the Front Range.
  • A sponsor-produced 30-second video was shown on 182 screens at 23 movie theaters across Colorado. Total impressions, based on average attendance, is 264,999.
  • The in-kind value of media sponsorships totaled $446,111. Sponsors included KUSA-TV (Denver NBC affiliate), 5280 (Denver’s premier lifestyle magazine), two public television stations, Univision Denver, iHeartMedia (owner of eight radio stations), Comcast cable, Outdoor Promotions of Colorado (bus shelters) and Mile High Outdoor Advertising (electronic billboards).

Colorado Gives Day has changed the giving landscape in Colorado. The numbers show overwhelming support for Colorado nonprofits and the important work they do to make our lives better.
Bus shelter in Jefferson County; yard sign; results posted in Times Square


[1] Numbers calculated using Meltwater, a media intelligence company that provides media monitoring services. Meltwater.com


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Year of Thanking Donors

By Dana Rinderknecht, Director of Online Giving

I spend a great deal of time talking to nonprofits and donors; it is the best part of my job. Telling complete strangers what I do can result in some truly amazing stories about why they donate on Colorado Gives Day. My favorite was the donor who told me she thought it should be a national holiday!

My least favorite thing is to hear from donors who love giving, but then never receive a thank you from the organization. We need to celebrate and appreciate these donors who take the time to go to ColoradoGives.org, search for their favorite nonprofits and make a gift. Community First Foundation sends each donor their receipt, but it is still the responsibility of individual nonprofits to thank these donors. It is the nonprofit’s responsibility to cultivate relationships with donors to turn them into long-term supporters.

As we move into 2017, let’s all set the goal of making this the year of thanking donors. The #GivingTuesday movement has started a new hashtag, #RetentionWednesday, and I love the sentiment. What if every nonprofit on ColoradoGives.org took 30 minutes each Wednesday to connect with individual donors in unique ways?

This could start with a thank you to donors and an update on what’s being done with the money they donated on Colorado Gives Day. What is the impact of their gift?

The next step is to continue to keep donors involved. Nonprofits need to craft a plan that goes beyond adding donors to newsletter lists.

What if in the middle of the year nonprofits did something to thank these donors again and update them on how much their donation has impacted the organization? What if this update was sent on July 6 – six months after Colorado Gives Day? What if each nonprofit had its board make phone calls? Or sent a simple one-page letter telling donors about something that was accomplished specifically because of them. This is the kind of thing that makes donors feel like part of an organization’s mission.

I heard recently that donors aren’t giving to individual organizations, they are giving through organizations to solve issues. They are outsourcing their public good to nonprofits. Let’s all resolve to not only help these donors outsource their good but appreciate them for it!

For more ideas, watch our webinar on retention fundraising: Strategies for Keeping Your Colorado Gives Day Donors


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Ripple Effect of Colorado Gives Day

By Marla J. Williams, President and CEO of Community First Foundation

A child gives up his or her allowance to help a nonprofit charity. A community member discovers a new organization they’re passionate about just down the street. A nonprofit serving home bound seniors is able to deliver 20 percent more meals next year.

After seven years, I am still stunned by the ripple effect of Colorado Gives Day.

The numbers are always incredible. This year, donations totaled $33.8 million. Generous donors made more than 145,700 gifts to 2,111 nonprofits in just 24 hours. These numbers represent the extraordinary generosity of individuals all across the state. Thank you for your contributions yesterday and for being part of the Colorado Gives Day movement.

As we look at the far-reaching effects of Colorado Gives Day, the best indicator of what's to come may be our newest program, Kids for ColoradoGives. A portion of the $33.8 million raised yesterday came through KidsforColoradoGives.org, a new component of the ColoradoGives.org website designed specifically for young givers. We’re inspired to witness the next generation of Coloradans giving up their allowances and holiday presents to make their neighborhoods better places to live, work and play.

Colorado Gives Day is a 24-hour event, but strengthening our communities is a year-round effort. Nonprofits need your support on a continual basis. ColoradoGives.org makes it easy to set up recurring donations at intervals that work for you and your family.

We can’t thank you enough for your contributions yesterday. Our job is not over. If I can leave you with one message, it’s keep giving.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Real People Behind the Scenes

Meet the Online Giving Team


Ever wonder what’s happening behind the scenes on Colorado Gives Day? Answering questions, processing donations and communicating progress is an all-hands-on-deck affair at Community First Foundation, but there are three staff members who really keep the ColoradoGives.org wheels turning, today and every day. Meet the online giving team!

 Meet Dana Rinderknecht, director of online giving
Q. What’s your role on the team?
A. I raise awareness of the program and keep it moving forward with exciting new ideas like KidsforColoradoGives.org.

Q. What’s the coolest thing about ColoradoGives.org most people don’t know?
A. That you can set up ongoing, regular donations to your favorite nonprofit to support them year-round. This gives them funds they can rely on and helps you spread out your cost.

Q. What are your personal charitable passions?
A. For me, it’s about making the world a better place.

Q. What are you most looking forward to doing the day after ColoradoGives Day – December 7?
A. Sleeping. I also look forward to hearing amazing stories from nonprofits about what happened on Colorado Gives Day.

Q. If you could go on a “friend date” with any celebrity, who would it be and what would you do?
A. I would go for wine with Madeline Albright.


Meet Bryce Wilkinson, senior online giving specialist
Q. What’s your role on team?
A. I address donor questions and help resolve any donation issues. I also assist nonprofits with updating and completing their profiles and work with all the data associated with the website.  

Q. What’s the coolest thing about ColoradoGives.org most people don’t know?
A. It is a year-round program, so people can donate 24 hours a day, every day of the year – not only on Colorado Gives Day!

Q. What are your personal charitable passions?
A. Education and civil rights.

Q. What are you most looking forward to doing the day after ColoradoGives Day – December 7?
A. Picking up some game-worn Colorado Rapids gear at their supporters’ sale.    

Q. If you could go on a “friend date” with any celebrity, who would it be and what would you do?
A. I’d get a pizza with Lionel Messi.


Meet Lisa Lujan, online giving coordinator
Q. What’s your role on the team?
A. I help donors and nonprofits with questions they have about the ColoradoGives program, donations or nonprofit profiles. I also manage ColoradoGives communications, such as our newsletter and social media posts.

Q. What’s the coolest thing about ColoradoGives.org most people don’t know?       
A. We’re working to improve our process on an ongoing basis. I don’t think a lot of people know just how passionate we are about serving our community to the best of our ability and how hard we work to ensure nonprofits and donors get the best service we can provide.

Q. What are your personal charitable passions?
A. This is always changing for me. As I grow older and more involved in the community, I find more things I am passionate about. Right now some of my passions include education, the arts, helping people with disabilities and public media.

Q. What are you most looking forward to doing the day after ColoradoGives Day – December 7?
A. Celebrating the final results!

Q. If you could go on a “friend date” with any celebrity, who would it be and what would you do?

A. Tough question! Probably one of my favorite comedians. I’d love to just sit with one of them and shoot the breeze over a cup of something delicious so I could thank them for how much joy their jokes have brought to my life.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Making Your List and Checking It Twice: How to Read Nonprofit Profiles for Colorado Gives Day in Five Easy Steps

By Dana Rinderknecht, Director of Online Giving at Community First Foundation

Colorado Gives Day is coming! Once again it is time to make your list and, like Santa, check it twice!

As you craft your list, the wonderful thing about ColoradoGives.org, the online giving platform for Colorado Gives Day, is that you can learn more about the nonprofits you already support as well as others you didn’t realize were out there doing good work. This year we have more than 2,000 nonprofits from all over the state of Colorado participating.

You might ask yourself, “What can I learn about these nonprofits?” and, “Where do I start?”
  1. Go to ColoradoGives.org and search. You can search by name, cause, or location. For instance, if you want to find out which nonprofits are working in your neighborhood, type in your zip code and press “Go.”
  2. When you see one you like, click “Learn More” on the widget to view the profile. The first tab is an overview of the program, starting with pictures and videos. It gives the basics about the nonprofit – address, website, mission statement, financial graphs and testimonials – and serves as a starting point if we want to know more.
  3. If we decide to move forward, the next tab is about programs. This is my favorite tab. I love learning how the nonprofit is putting their boots on the ground to make our community better. This area also shows who their target population is, how they define success and examples of what they’ve done. Here, you might consider who the organization is serving and how. Is this something you’re passionate about?
  4. The next tab highlights their management and governance. It starts by showing the number of people who work for the organization either as a volunteer or staff member, then tells you more about the senior staff and board of directors. This tab may give you a sense of the organization’s size. Do you prefer to give to small or large organizations? It will also give you a sense of the organization’s leadership. Do the senior staff and board members seem like good leaders and stewards of your gift?
  5. If you’re a numbers person, the next tab is for you! Explore the organization’s financials. I enjoy looking at the trends. Have they grown or decreased in size over the past three years? How have they done raising and spending dollars? Where does most of their funding come from? See our blogs on how to read a Form 990 for even more tips.

Once you’re done with these tabs, it’s time to decide – does this organization deserve a place on your list? If so, great! If not, there are more than 2,000 others to choose from.

The best part? You can spread joy from the comfort of your home. My favorite way to give is curled up in bed with my laptop. Leave the clattering around on rooftops to old Saint Nick.

Have a fun and happy Colorado Gives Day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Participating in #GivingTuesday the Colorado Way

By Samantha Barlow, Communications Coordinator at Community First Foundation

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us in a wave of late night lines and busy websites; today is #GivingTuesday. In Colorado, the way we participate in #GivingTuesday is by scheduling our Colorado Gives Day donations.

This year, our Colorado Gives Day Rally coincides with #GivingTuesday to remind Coloradans to give where they live. The Rally is the last “big hurrah” before Colorado Gives Day and takes place on the West Steps of the Colorado State Capitol. Nonprofit representatives show up in costumes, FirstBank conducts five cash prize drawings, and the Governor officially proclaims December 6, 2016, as Colorado Gives Day.

Sixteen-year-old Allison Winn of the Stink Bug Project is also talking all about KidsforColoardoGives.org as the place for kids in the Colorado Gives Day movement.

Nonprofits and Coloradans across the state will continue to rally support for their causes in the last days before December 6. To schedule a gift early, simply go to ColoradoGives.org and click the “CO Gives Day” button during checkout.


Learn more about the ways you can give where you live this #GivingTuesday at ColoradoGives.org.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Meet Karma, a Kid for ColoradoGives!

By Samantha Barlow, Communications Coordinator at Community First Foundation


Karma Lynne is 10 years old. She’s a fifth grader, a Lakewood resident and a community volunteer. She’s also a Kid for ColoradoGives!

Kids for ColoradoGives is a new program that allows young donors to experience the joy of giving. Community First Foundation created KidsforColoradoGives.org, a kid-friendly component of the ColoradoGives.org website, to connect the next generation of Colorado givers with local nonprofit organizations.

This weekend, we interviewed Karma about her experience using the new site.

Q. What did you think when your grandmother, Lynne Valencia, asked you to check out KidsforColoradoGives.org with her?
A. I was excited to give money to places that help others. I never knew there were so many organizations in Colorado that do good.

Q. Did you learn something new on KidsforColoradoGives.org?
A. I really liked looking for organizations that help animals. That is where I wanted to donate. When I found the page, I got to learn about all the places that help animals heal and get adopted. There are places that help dogs, cats, birds, horses, goats and so many animals.  I never knew that animals also help people heal, feel better and have a normal life.

Q. How did you decide which organization to donate to?
A. I spent some time reading the descriptions and looking at the photos. It was hard to decide. I love dogs and horses so that is what I looked for first. But then Grandma Lynne and I found some other organizations that worked with wildlife that I never knew about, so I gave them some of my money, too.

Q. After you made your donations, how did you feel? 
A. I felt happy. I wished that I could go visit the organizations I gave to, because I felt that I was part of them now. Grandma Lynne and I are planning to go visit and maybe donate our time, too.

Q. Why do you think giving to organizations that help others is important? 
A. It is important to give so they don’t feel alone. The people who work at the organizations should feel like others believe in what they are doing to encourage them to keep doing their work. It will make our state a better place.

Q. How do you think young people like you can help your communities?
A. We can help by giving our time, money and other things like dog food or beds. We can also help by being nice to each other and helping people solve their problems.

Q. Would you recommend other kids use the KidsforColoradoGives.org website? 
A. Yes. I would let them know there are lots of choices and you can donate to whatever is important to you.  For example, if you love animals, education, health, art, the environment…you can learn about them!


If you’re ready to introduce your favorite kiddos to charitable giving, you can purchase Giving eCards at KidsforColoradoGives.org. Kids then use the Giving eCard code to make online donations to a Colorado charity. Buying Giving eCards and making giving decisions as a family is a great way to pass down family values and inspire a lifetime of charitable giving.