Friday, December 9, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes!

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

Community First Foundation, FirstBank, media sponsors, and hundreds of nonprofits work all year to pull off a giving day that makes a difference.

In the months leading up to Colorado Gives Day, we’ve been awed by the current of energy building in Colorado. In the last few weeks, who could go a day—an hour--without hearing something about December 6?

A year ago, when we launched the concept, we wanted to enhance giving in Colorado. What we got—what we all got—was so much more than that: community engagement and spirit; nonprofit collaboration; people wanting to be a part of something bigger; and a unified, singular drive to help each other by giving.

And the donors were unstoppable.  Despite some website glitches, donors were determined to make their gifts – lots of gifts!  More than 52,000 donations flooded GivingFirst.org to the tune of $12 million. That’s an increase of 150 percent over last year’s 20,000 donations.

Thank you to FirstBank for being the corporate partner of every nonprofit’s dream, contributing $500,000 and media buys to the cause.

Thank you to our fabulous  media sponsors who  raised the public’s awareness of Colorado Gives Day on a grand scale.

Thank you to our Bonus Bucks sponsors who inspired donors and added excitement to the day.

Thank you to the foundations who support nonprofits in extraordinary ways every day, funded the event’s webinars, and were also there to make sure Colorado Gives Day 2011 remained free of processing fees.

And, of course, thank you to the boards and staffs of nearly 1,000 nonprofits who dedicated their energy and creative ideas to make sure Colorado Gives Day was a stunning success.

Thank you Colorado! What a difference a day can make.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

CiviCore Gets GivingFirst.org Ready for Colorado Gives Day

Recently we met up with Charles “Chic” Naumer, co-founder of CiviCore, the company that programs the online giving technology for GivingFirst.org. We appreciate the ideas they share to help us enhance the site. Their work and dedication to GivingFirst is indispensable, and we are grateful to them for being the technology sponsor of Colorado Gives Day this year.

What is CiviCore?
Our company builds web-based database applications for the social sector. This includes databases for managing volunteers, donors and client outcomes. Our products are customized for each client’s particular need.

When did CiviCore start and where are you located?
My business partner, Rich Rainaldi, and I co-founded CiviCore in 2000. Our office is in the heart of downtown Denver and we have over 350 clients in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America and Australia.

How did you get involved with Community First Foundation?
Community First Foundation hired us four years ago to build the GivingFirst platform. It has been a great experience to see the success of the GivingFirst website in terms of both the enthusiasm it has created for online giving in our community and the benefit to all the nonprofits we care about in our community.

What do you do to prepare for Colorado Gives Day?
Our biggest focus is to prep for the amount of transactions per second that will come through GivingFirst in a 24-hour period. Last Colorado Gives Day we had up to 6 transactions per second and more than 20,000 donations in one day. We are prepared for t these bursts of activity in a short amount of time. Also, we recently migrated GivingFirst to a new “cloud based” environment that will make the site more efficient and cost effective.

What will your team be doing on the big day—December 6?
Our entire team is very excited to be a part of the great success of Colorado Gives Day.  We won’t be getting a lot of sleep on December 6th.  We will be monitoring everything for all 24 hours —transactions coming in, payments being processed, system performance and general traffic metrics. Last year Community First Foundation met its goal of $1 million very early in the morning. We were thrilled to see the donations coming in and our system handling eight times the expected volume so well. We were really prepared last year, so we have a leg up this year.

How do you help ensure the site is secure?
Security is a very important. We have considered security throughout development of the GivingFirst system. To ensure our systems are secure the Giving First system was recently tested by an outside, third-party security firm. It is always nice to have an outside opinion when it comes to security and this audit gives us added confidence our systems are secure.  Additionally, all of CiviCore applications are hosted at a top tier hosting facility with state-of-the-art physical and software security mechanisms in place. 

Do you have a favorite GivingFirst feature?
I am very excited by Fundraising Pages--the individual campaign pages. Last year, I setup a campaign page for my favorite nonprofit, The Anchor Center for Blind Children, and raised more than $2,000. It is very gratifying to be able to utilize this functionality to generate an even bigger benefit for the organizations you care about.

What do you like about GivingFirst?
It’s made a big impact in Colorado. We’ve been really excited by its value—making online giving available 24 hours a day, every day in Colorado. It gives nonprofits in our community infrastructure that they otherwise would have had to build themselves. Now when our Colorado clients need an online donation system, we can direct them to GivingFirst. We love to be able to support our Colorado-based clients so cost effectively! Clients in other states just don’t have this option.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Support Local Through a Community Foundation!


Marla J. Williams

This week is Community Foundations week, and we met up with Marla J. Williams, president and CEO of Community First Foundation, to tell us about the value of these organizations.

 


Marla, this week the country is celebrating community foundations. Can you tell us what a community foundation is?
A foundation like Community First Foundation is the vehicle through which a community can come together to create and pool charitable resources and address needs in a specific geographic area.

What region does Community First Foundation serve?
We make grants to 501(c)(3) organizations in the 7-county Metro Denver area.

What is its mission?
To improve quality of life by increasing community generosity and involvement.

How many grants did the Foundation award last year?
Last year we granted $13.4 million to nonprofits in the Denver area. Recently we’ve granted to organizations such as the Denver Office of Drug Strategy to reduce substance abuse, the Jefferson County Department of Health to fund cervical cancer screening tests for low income women, and Denver Open Media to provide “new media” training to help nonprofits promote their services.

I know Community First Foundation serves hundreds of nonprofits; how does it support donors?
In addition to making it easy for people to learn about hundreds of local nonprofits through GivingFirst.org, we also help people be charitable through planned giving and funds called Donor Advised Funds. Through Donor Advised Funds, donors can get a tax deduction in the year they make a gift but advise us about the timing and amount of donation to nonprofits over many years. Individuals, families and groups may set up this type of fund to memorialize a loved one, create a legacy of giving, and to receive the guidance and support of a foundation that has its finger on the pulse of the community.

Why would I use a community foundation rather than just support a nonprofit directly?
It’s not either/or. It’s both. If there is a nonprofit that you trust and whose work you understand and value, you can support that organization directly (consider a gift on GivingFirst.org!). By giving to a community foundation, you can also be part of a larger strategy that draws upon the expertise of the foundation’s board and staff.

Why would I set up a charitable fund at a foundation rather than a bank?
Community foundations are leaders in grant-making and specialize in knowing the needs of the community, knowing the nonprofits that serve those needs, and connecting individuals with these nonprofits. Our sole purpose of being is to serve communities. We also have an obligation to honor donor intent and to manage charitable funds prudently.

What impact has the foundation made in the Denver area?
Through our nonprofit preservation initiative we have helped more than 70 nonprofits improve their financial futures by establishing endowments. GivingFirst.org, our online giving resource, and Colorado Gives Day have been quite revolutionary for this region. People have donated more than $16.2 million from 2007 through mid-November. The site is making giving easy and accessible for Coloradans. Nonprofits love that we have a vehicle for them to accept online gifts with no membership fees and minimal processing fees. It aligns with our mission to serve the community in this way.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

GivingFirst.org: Fast and Furious Growth

By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist
We are just under one month away until Colorado Gives Day, and the energy at Community First Foundation is frenetic!

Dana, our GivingFirst manager, has been sequestered in her office, reviewing and approving hundreds of nonprofits who are joining the site since September. She juggles approving the profiles while answering lots of calls and emails each day. (Stay tuned to this blog for the final number of nonprofits participating in CO Gives Day!)

Bryce, our project coordinator, is pouring over nonprofit documents that need to be in order before a new profile goes live.




Caitlin, our new communications manager, is a blur as she darts through the office, getting incredible media coverage lined up for the weeks leading up to the big day.

I am fielding numerous emails about marketing tools and planning for a January Colorado Gives Day celebration for nonprofit participants (details TBA)-- where High Five prize winners will be announced. Our leadership is successfully signing up Bonus Bucks sponsors and, truly, every one of our 13 staff members have a hand in Colorado Gives Day.

Although Colorado Gives Day drives hundreds of new nonprofits to join GivingFirst.org, the site has been growing fast and furiously all on its own merits.

Here’s what we’re seeing with online donations this year:

·         More than 800 nonprofits are joining GivingFirst.org, up from 540 last year

·         Donations are up 82 percent this year, and stood at $2.2 million as of October 31, 2011.

·         More than 18,700 donations have been processed through GivingFirst through October 31, 2011, up 108 percent.

·         In October alone, we've processed $380,000 in donations through GivingFirst compared to $216,000 last year

Stay tuned!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Why I get excited about GivingFirst


By Dana Rinderknecht, GivingFirst Manager
I wanted to title this “Why I love GivingFirst.org.” But then I wondered if it is wrong for the person responsible for the website to tell you why she loves it.
This time of year, for the second year in a row, is just crazy at Community First Foundation. Things are extremely exciting as we get everything ready for December 6, our second Colorado Gives Day. My main job right now is to review all of the newly submitted profiles for those who would like to become GivingFirst participants.
For those of you who have no idea what that means, let me give you a quick overview. Each nonprofit that you find on GivingFirst.org has gone through a process of entering information about what exactly they do. This information includes who sits on their board of directors and then statistics about that board, such as what percent support the organization financially. It also includes information on each of their programs, including how they measure success and what are their short and long term goals. It is a great process for nonprofits to go through to evaluate themselves. I hear from those working through the process that it has been a great way for them to reflect on where they are. From new employees, I hear it is a great way for them to learn about the organization.

Once a nonprofit has entered all their information they click on a button that says ”Submit for Review.” Then it becomes my job to look at this information and ensure that it is complete. I also pull information from up to three years of 990s so that donors can get a complete picture of their financials.
This is why I love GivingFirst.  We have created a site where nonprofits can enter information about what they do and then donors can go in and review it. We are not judging the nonprofits. We want the donors to make up their own minds. We want donors to go in and learn as much as they can about the nonprofits in their community doing the work that fuels their passion.

Every day I get to do that. I get to review the information that nonprofits put into their profiles, see that is it complete but also see what really amazing things are happening in communities around the state. Now, I am the first to say that there are nonprofits on our site that don’t match my passions. But I love reading and learning about the work they do, putting them out there for donors to learn more about what they do.
I also am excited with the tools we have created to give donors more ways to give to the nonprofits. Do they know that they can make a recurring donation? That means that they can come onto the site and chose a favorite nonprofit(s) and give to them weekly, monthly or whatever works into their budget.

We have also created fundraising pages. I call these the “I’m going to run a marathon" pages. This is a way for me to raise money for my favorite charity from my friends and family. I can do this if I do actually run a marathon or if it is my birthday or because it is Colorado Gives Day! Finally, I can also purchase a gift card for a friend, family member or business associate. This allows them to choose their favorite nonprofit. What a great way to thank those who support you in what you do while being philanthropic.
So that is why I love GivingFirst.org. What a great resource! If I do say so my biased self!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

High-Five Prizes for Nonprofits: Earn Your Way to the Top

By Angela Bevacqua, Communications Specialist

In our last blog we talked about Bonus Bucks—$1,000 prizes that will be awarded on Colorado Gives Day from a random drawing of donor names.

But we’re also offering another kind of prize. Prizes nonprofits can earn—and use as goals for their organization.

These little windfalls of cash—worth $5,000 each--are called High-Five prizes and are generously funded by corporate partner FirstBank. 12 prizes will be awarded, adding $60,000 more to the pot of Colorado Gives Day prize money.

So how can a nonprofit win one of these prizes?

First you need to know that there are four categories of prizes. Within each category there will be three winners.

The Prize Categories are:
  1. Most Donors on Colorado Gives Day (3 winners)
  2. Most Dollars Raised on Colorado Gives Day (3 winners)
  3. Largest Percent Increase in Dollars over CO Gives Day 2010 (3 winners)
  4. Most Dollars Raised Through GivingFirst Fundraising Pages on Colorado Gives Day (3 winners)
To select the winners, Community First Foundation will be placing all participating nonprofits into three groups. The three groups will be determined according to the annual revenue reported by the nonprofits for tax year 2009. The first place winner in each of the three groups per category gets a prize.

So start thinking about your strategy now and good luck!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Get Lucky with Bonus Bucks


By Angela Bevacqua, Communications Specialist

Who doesn't like prizes--especially when they're cash?

For the second annual Colorado Gives Day—Tuesday, December 6—we’re sweetening the pie. Not only will we continue the Incentive Fund ($300,000 fully funded by FirstBank), but we’re adding lots of $1,000 and $5,000 cash prizes to help Colorado nonprofits.

Some of these prizes are earned and some are the luck of the draw. Here’s what you need to know about the “lucky” prizes:

Bonus Bucks
Bonus Bucks are $1,000 cash prizes that give donors a chance to win money for the nonprofits they love. At least once per hour over the 24-hour course of Colorado Gives Day we will randomly draw a donor’s name. The nonprofit this person donated to in that hour will receive the cash prize. Our goal is to award at least 24 of these $1,000 prizes.

What if a donor supports multiple organizations in one transaction? We can isolate each donation for the drawing.

How can a donor win? If she’s up at odd times of the night, like we’ll be, her chances may increase if she makes her donation then.

A Few Fine Points
  •  A donor can only win once, so it won’t help to donate multiple times to a favorite organization. But nonprofits can be the recipients more than once, so lots of different supporters throughout the day are a good thing.
  •  Winners will be announced on GivingFirst's Facebook and Twitter  pages shortly after the drawing. All results will be compiled and posted in Colorado Gives Day’s Prize Room.
Seeking Bonus Bucks Sponsors!
Colorado businesses who wish to support Colorado nonprofits will be sponsoring one or more of these prizes. Our goal is to award at least 24 prizes for each hour of the day, but we’d love to offer more. If you know a local Colorado business that would like to be a part of Colorado Gives Day, ask them to contact abevacqua@CommunityFirstFoundation.org for sponsorship details.

Tune in next time when we’ll talk about the kind of prizes you can earn—called High Five prizes, and valued at $5,000 each.

Learn more:  FAQs

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Denver Kids, Inc. Heats Up Fundraising Pages

Are you ready to put on your fundraising hat and really work it?

 
In our last blog, Dana Rinderknecht, manager of GivingFirst.org, introduced Fundraising Pages. These are customizable web pages available on GivingFirst.org that help individuals raise money for the nonprofits they believe in.

I met up with Michelle Maldonado, the development coordinator at Denver Kids, Inc., a nonprofit that helps Denver Public School students who live in higher risk environments to successfully complete high school, pursue post-secondary options and become contributing members of the community. Michelle shared with me how Fundraising Pages work for them.

Denver Kids, Inc. is involved in a few big events a year to raise money for their mission—the Kaiser Permanente Colfax Marathon and Summer Solstice Golf Marathon. Staff and other supporters run the race and golf for donations that go to Denver Kids, Inc. Until this year they have used paper letters to get donations and sorted through manual checks.

This year they started using Fundraising Pages to make it all easier—and all online. Here are some perks of the online tool Michelle shared with me, and one “hot tip.”

Why Fundraising Pages?

  • You can share links to Fundraising Pages online, which is more efficient and less expensive than mailing paper letters
  • Donations can be given online rather than through physical checks
  • Unlike some other online fundraising page tools, it is free to use and there are no online processing fees on the first $50,000 donated per year per organization
  • A visual thermometer helps you and your supporters track how close you are to goal
  • Each person can create and personalize her own page
  • Hot tip: Set your goal high—it motivates people to help you reach it!
To learn more, visit the Fundraising Information page on GivingFirst.org

By Angela Bevacqua, Communications Specialist

 
Supporter Heather Johnson’s Fundraising Page for the Colfax Marathon benefiting Denver Kids, Inc.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fundraising Pages put the FUN in raising money for your favorite nonprofit!

By Dana Rinderknecht, GivingFirst Manager

Have you ever been so touched by a nonprofit organization that you wanted to tell everyone you know about their amazing work? Have you ever wondered how you could impact the nonprofit that is closest to your heart? Well, have I got an idea for you!

Recently we introduced Fundraising Pages on GivingFirst.org. What is a Fundraising Page, you ask? This is an opportunity for you to raise money for your favorite charity. Sometimes there's only so much good you can do by yourself. That's why we've made it easy for you to raise money for your favorite charity. By creating a personalized fundraising page on GivingFirst, you can enlist all of the people you're connected with to support your cause.

The example I always give is let’s suppose I decide to run a marathon – such as the Colfax Marathon in Denver. Since this is a huge commitment for me and something I would want everyone I know to know about and to support me in my endeavor, I would like to use it to raise money for my favorite charity. I can go to GivingFirst.org, find that charity and click on the "Fundraise Now" yellow button.

The next part is really the easy part, as I enter the information about my campaign. This is where I can explain why I am doing this and why I want to raise money for this particular agency. I can also upload a photo or two of me training, perhaps a video of me volunteering with the agency or talking about them, and I can customize the URL (web page address) for direct access. Then I just share the link to my page and watch the money roll in! Did I say there is a great thermometer showing the progress towards my goal?

With the Colfax Marathon in early May, we have seen great success so far with Fundraising Pages. But they are not just for extreme athletes! These could be used to raise money for nonprofits on special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, or retirements. They can also be used to support a specific purpose or need of a nonprofit, such as building a playground, buying a new refrigerator, or a matching grant opportunity. The limit is really your imagination! I for one am looking to see what new ways people have for Fundraising Pages.

Can you even imagine how they could be used for the next Colorado Gives Day?

• To learn more, visit the Fundraising Information page on GivingFirst.org
• Check out this sample Fundraising Page benefiting Family Tree
• To see if a specific charity has any Fundraising Pages, review the Overview tab of its profile.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Colorado Gives Day Report: What Does the Data Tell Us?

By Angela Bevacqua, Communications Specialist

98% of nonprofits received a donation.

That’s my favorite statistic from the Colorado Gives Day 2010 Giving Report we released today. It tells me that virtually all of the 539 nonprofits participating in the initiative got something out of it. The nonprofits averaged more than $15,000 in donations, with the median amount more than $4,500 per organization.

I also like the statistic that 83% of nonprofits reported that they acquired new donors. We’ve been told by organizations such as Boulder County Aids project that 45% of their donors on CO Gives Day were new. Women’s Bean Project reported 58% new.

The number of website visits to GivingFirst.org on Colorado Gives Day –nearly 24,000—is impressive, too. It shows us that GivingFirst.org is a growing resource for people who want to learn about local charities.

And although there is a concentration of both nonprofits and people in the Denver metro area, people from 75% of the counties in Colorado made a donation on December 8.

The most common donation size through GivingFirst.org dropped from $100 pre-recession to $50 in the heart of the recession. Yet on Colorado Gives Day the most common gift size popped back up to $100.

A fun fact from the Colorado Gives Day report is that one individual made 41 donations for a total of $3,900. I know the feeling of getting on GivingFirst and wanting to keep adding organizations to my shopping cart!

To read more findings from Colorado Gives Day, visit Colorado Gives Day 2010 Report.
Happy reading!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Arvada Residents Support Favorite Causes Online

Chris and Paul Duncan are longtime residents of Arvada who donated to their favorite charities online this past December. Paul works in a forensic engineering business and Chris is a personal trainer. They have four children, and strong commitment to philanthropy. Here’s what they told us about their experience with Colorado Gives Day:

How did you learn about Colorado Gives Day?
We learned about it through the informative flyers from Work Options for Women.

How do you typically make your donations?
We make numerous year-end donations, with about half of them online and half via check. There are advantages to both, but donating online is certainly quick and efficient. It’s a simple process that saves us a lot of time making donations to multiple organizations.

What organizations have you supported recently?
We donated to a number of organizations on Colorado Gives Day. A few of these were:

Work Options for Women because they assist women in helping themselves. They use the philosophy that “teaching a person to fish is better than giving a fish.” This organization has a tremendous success rate of training women with a skill they can use to enhance their own futures.

Tennyson Center for Children
because they work to help children and parents learn coping skills to be able to function 'normally' in the future. No child or parent is a “lost cause.” There is much work to be done for healing and skill-building to mend families, but this center works methodically to create success.

Adams Camp
supports the special needs population and enables their clients to have an extraordinary “summer camp” experience.

Habitat for Humanity
helps people help themselves. Again, the “teach a person to fish” concept we support.What inspires you to give?
Donating to nonprofit organizations has been important to us for as long as we can remember. It is a principle we have learned through our Christian heritage.How do you decide which organizations to support?
Although nearly all nonprofits are outstanding, the organizations that keep overhead low and work to help the helpless or help adults help themselves are our favorites.

Thank you to Chris and Paul.
 
What inspires you to give?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Colorado Gives Day: Reflections from Nonprofits

By Angela Bevacqua, Communications Specialist

Two months later and we’re still learning from Colorado Gives Day 2010. As we pour through data and listen to the experiences of our nonprofit friends and donors, we gain new insights about fundraising and philanthropy in Colorado.

At a recent gathering of our Nonprofit Advisory Committee—a varied group of GivingFirst nonprofits that help us improve the program—we heard these reflections about The Day:

Dan Hanley, director of development for Boulder County AIDS Project, said that 45% of their donations on Dec. 8 were from new donors. The agency raised more than $20,000 from 178 donations after a whirlwind of events. Dan said there are limitless ways in which you can promote your agency for Colorado Gives Day. They began soliciting support in the late-night hours of Dec. 7 at a bar in Denver, then moved on to the Denver Diner in the a.m., then several coffee shops in Boulder, and ended with a standing-room-only concert at the Boulder Draft House.

“Colorado Gives Day changed who we are as an agency," Dan said. "We’re small—just a staff of 12—but our reach on that day made us seem like a much bigger organization. We were once again reminded how important the individual donor is to our mission.”

Dan Mondragon, development director at Work Options for Women, told us that they also put on a complementary event for Colorado Gives Day. The fundraising event took place at Cafe Options, the organization’s breakfast/lunch spot in downtown Denver, and helped them raise a total of $18,654 from 84 donations.

“Colorado Gives Day was a great reflection of our current individual donor program and a strong launch for growth in 2011; 31% of the day’s donors were new.” Dan said. “Colorado Gives Day blew the $1 million goal out of the water!”

Richard Rainaldi, a partner at CiviCore, had a unique perspective in that he was literally behind the scenes as the GivingFirst platform’s developer. CiviCore made sure the system ran smoothly on Colorado Gives Day and was moved by what he witnessed.

“Philanthropy was truly happening on that day,” Richard said. “I could tell that people were thinking really hard about how they divvied up their money on GivingFirst.org.”

Jeffco Action Center raised a whopping $192,813 from 307 donations on December 8. "Colorado Gives Day was our largest single day of donations in December in our history—and the whole month was up, not just that day,” Joe Haines, director of development, said. “The money we received came when the needs of poor, working poor and homeless in Jefferson County was at its highest in our 42 year history."

Thank you to the GivingFirst Nonprofit Advisory Committee!

Members include the following:

Amber DeBerry, The Wildlife Experience
Ashley Golder, Safehouse Denver
Bob Timm, Senior's Resource Center
Colleen Skates, Evergreen Scholarship - Bootstraps
Dan Hanley, Boulder County AIDS Project
Dan Mondragon, Work Options for Women
Heather Jackson, Aurora Mental Health Center
Jill Schneider, Caring Connection
Joe Haines, Jeffco Action Center
Mary Jo Baker, Sobriety House
Shannon Cardellina, Arapahoe House
Stacey Saggese, Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute
Stephanie Baer, Children's Outreach Project
Valerie Gildea, Third Way Center

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Colorado Gives Day: A Stunning Success! $8.4 Million Raised in One Day


By Dana Rinderknecht, GivingFirst Manager

WOW! How time flies when it is the Giving Season! We are just now coming down from an amazing high, and I thought it would be fun to share some of the information we have gathered and open up a forum where others might share their experiences.

For me, Colorado Gives Day was a renewal in faith in the people of Colorado. For the past three years, I have been talking about the statistics that Colorado Nonprofit Association’s Generosity Project brought to light that said Coloradoans do not give like the average American gives, ranking 38th in overall giving. I have spoken about how I believed GivingFirst.org can change this statistic by giving the people of Colorado a place to learn about the phenomenal nonprofits operating in their neighborhoods.

On December 8th, you stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the ball park! 8.4 million dollars! Unbelievable!

For me, it was an amazing 24 hours. Yes, I was up from midnight until midnight. The first call came in at 4:30 in the morning and the last call at 10:30 p.m. There were calls from donors wanting to participate, to help, to be a part of something. We took calls from donors who had never used the Internet to purchase something, but they were going to donate on Dec 8th. One of my co-workers helped a woman who was 84, her husband was 90, and they wanted to support their charity.

It was so much fun to watch the dollars coming in. Mid-morning the website slowed down because there were so many people accessing it. Our amazing partner, CiviCore, monitored traffic to minimize any issues before or as they happened. We wanted to ensure that the donor experience was the best possible and so prior to the day we tested to see potential strains on the system as the load increased. CiviCore told me that with all this testing we would be able to easily do $8 million. They were right!

I loved watching social media – Twitter and Facebook were flying with nonprofits telling their stories. We saw several donors who gave to multiple organizations – one donor tweeted, “It was fun 2. I went with intention of giving to 1 place, just kept adding to my cart!”

The impact on nonprofits has been great to hear – one agency saw 44% new donors, still another had 70% first-time online donors, several witnessed their biggest single fundraising event, and over and over again I heard nonprofits say they met their goal for the year so the rest of the year will be a great start for a new year.

I wish I could say we were still basking in the glow but there is still work to be done. It is a new year and there are many amazing nonprofits that need to become participants on GivingFirst.org!