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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Meeting Space Celebrity Sighting: Natalie Portman

By Valerie Brown, Meeting Space Administrator

I met Natalie Portman in the Community First Foundation Meeting Space yesterday.

Natalie Portman (L) and Valerie Brown in
the Foundation's free Meeting Space
Okay, not the Natalie Portman of Star Wars, V for Vendetta and Black Swan. This Natalie Portman is a top-notch meeting facilitator who was working with a group advancing Mental Health First Aid in Jefferson County. Led by Jefferson Center for Mental Health, the group met in our largest meeting room to discuss training community members on how to identify persons who may benefit from mental health resources.

Jefferson Center for Mental Health is one of the dizzying array of nonprofits to have come through our doors since we opened the Meeting Space a year ago! February 2016 saw one meeting lasting four hours with six people. February 2017 saw 37 meetings for a total of 250 hours with 799 people through the door! In fact, in the first year we have hosted 269 meetings lasting a total of 1,822 hours and have seen 5,615 people through the door.

These people do the good work that makes Colorado a great place to live. They are teachers, artists, social workers, athletes, attorneys, nurses and motorcyclists. They feed the hungry, house the homeless, teach English to immigrants and staff food pantries.

A typical day might look like this:
  • Changemaker Room, capacity: 36. The Changemaker, our largest room, has a group of veterans, historians and artists of various disciplines who are planning a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. 
  • Innovator Room, capacity: 20. Meanwhile, in the Innovator, prospective adoptive parents are learning self-care techniques to get themselves through the difficult and lengthy adoption process and then the challenges of parenting troubled kids.
  • Combined Changemaker and Innovator Room, capacity 56. Later in the day, we will draw back the room divider for mental health professionals to teach a Mental Health First Aid class to a large group from the Visiting Nurse Association.
  • Connector Room, capacity 12. Storytellers in the Connector are planning events to pass down the stories that bind us together as Coloradans, Americans and humans.
  • Collaborator Room, capacity 8. In the Collaborator, school administrators are planning a school for teenagers who have been victims of human trafficking.

Me? I get to eavesdrop a little on these meetings, ensuring that technology is working, the water cooler is full and the rooms are comfortable.

It’s an honor to host such amazing nonprofits doing such good work in our state.

Plus, I got to meet Natalie Portman.

How to Schedule a Room for Your Next Meeting
The Community First Foundation Meeting Space offers rooms free of charge to nonprofit organizations. The collaborative space offers a variety of rooms and configurations that accommodate eight-56 people. Robust audio/visual equipment and a large catering kitchen help you put your best foot forward for trainings, meetings and retreats. Located in Olde Town Arvada, the space is just five minutes north of I-70 on Wadsworth and 15 minutes northwest of downtown Denver. Free parking on site. Visit our Meeting Space Webpage and schedule a meeting today!




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kids for ColoradoGives Sparks a New Tradition for Our Family

By Chic Naumer, CEO, CiviCore


Our family tradition is to gather around the computer and participate in Colorado Gives Day — the online, 24 hour day of giving  together. This past year was different...in a great way.

Our two daughters, Stella and Claire, donated through the new KidsforColoradoGives.org website, the kid-friendly sister site of ColoradoGives.org. We gave Stella and Claire a budget and emailed each of them a Giving eCard to use on the kid site. They loved the autonomy of spending “their own money” and excitedly began planning how many organizations they wanted to give to and how much money they would have for each.

They dove into the process of researching causes and organizations. Stella, age 10, is interested in environmental and animal issues. Claire, age nine, is interested in helping people with disabilities and is a big supporter of the Anchor Center for Blind Children. They each spent an hour reading the profiles about different organizations and making their donations online.

“Feeling good after donating was the most fun part,” Stella told me. “Plus we felt like we were surprising these organizations by giving them money.”

One particularly special aspect of this past Colorado Gives Day for my daughters was seeing how many nonprofits there are in Colorado. There were lots of “oohs” and “aahs” when my daughters realized how many organizations they knew.

“I liked watching the live scrolling bar  that showed you  the names of the nonprofits getting money,” Claire shared.

As parents, our biggest revelation was how empowered our daughters felt to be making their own decisions. They liked having their own account and took more ownership over the process than in the past. It was exciting to see how engaged they became and how giving is becoming an important part of their identity.

CiviCore’s Role in ColoradoGives
CiviCore is proud to partner with Community First Foundation to support ColoradoGives.org through its flexible Giving Platform. CiviCore’s mission is to make a social impact through technology solutions that improve the use of information in nonprofits, foundations and public agencies.
 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Newbie’s Quick Guide to ColoradoGives Enrollment

By Lisa Lujan, Online Giving Coordinator

You’ve always wanted your nonprofit to participate, but it just hasn’t worked out before. Well, this is your chance! It is that time of year again, ColoradoGives.org enrollment time, from March 1 – July 31.

Nervous about the process? No need to be! This quick guide gives you an overview in three steps. (If you’re a details person, check out our Overview of Process to Create a Profile.)

  1. Visit the ColoradoGives.org Enrollment Page. Here you’ll learn several key pieces of information; it’s important to not skim this page. Really dig into the weeds and read the details. One of the key pieces of content is a listing of the Intro Session dates. You must sign up for one of these webinars in order to participate in the program, so be sure to get it on your calendar ASAP. The first Intro Session is March 14 at 9 a.m. and the last is July 31, 2017 at 3 p.m. Another key piece of content on the Enrollment Page is our Eligibility Requirements. It is very important to read and understand all of these requirements. If you have questions about any of them, contact us.
  2.  Attend the Intro Session you’ve signed up for. During this webinar, you will get a basic overview of the program, the tools available to you through it and much more. It’s a quick webinar and you will have an opportunity to ask questions.
  3.  Complete the login request form. After the Intro Session, you will receive an email with a link to a login request form. This form must completed in order to receive a login, so if you attend a webinar and don’t see the email afterwards in your inbox (or spam), let us know ASAP. The login you’re sent will include detailed instructions about how to complete your organization’s profile as well as the required documents you will be expected provide. In this key step it is imperative that you remember that the deadline to submit your profile is Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 5 p.m. (Save date to calendar: Outlook or Google). 

Like any good journey, here are a few tips to help you prepare:
  1. Sign up for an Intro Session as soon as possible.
  2. Complete the form to request a login as soon as you get the email. This will ensure you’re in our system and can start on your profile as soon as you’re ready. If you wait until the last minute, you may not have time to complete the profile.
  3. Pull as much basic information together as you can ahead of time. Things like your 990 or 990EZ, Secretary of State certificates and IRS Letter of Determination are a great start.
  4. Ask questions. If you’re unsure about something, ask us! This will ensure you don’t waste valuable time doing something that might be unnecessary. The ColoradoGives team is here to help you through this process!

We can’t wait to have you all join and good luck!

P.S. If you’re already a nonprofit on ColoradoGives.org, keep your eyes open for an email about updating your profile coming to the ColoradoGives Primary Contact around May!

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