Wednesday, November 28, 2012

75 Years of Giving

Josie Burke, El Pomar Foundation

By Josie Burke, Director of Communications, El Pomar Foundation

Philanthropy can be interpreted as many things: hard to pronounce, confusing, reserved for the privileged. When El Pomar Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation got together earlier this year to talk about joining forces to mark our 75th anniversaries that occur within five days this December, we had to confront this perception. And that meant changing the vocabulary. If we were going to meet the goal we set--to celebrate our field by encouraging others to join us-- we had to ditch the big 'P' word.

That is how we settled on giving. Everyone can give, even if everyone doesn't think that philanthropy is open to all. So, you will see that our joint anniversary logo mentions that for 75 years both foundations have been working, building and giving for Colorado. We jettisoned all "p"s, except for the one in our name.

Having whittled the alphabet down to 25 letters, we went about narrowing options to find the kind of collaboration that would, indeed, help move the anniversary from a marker to a milestone. We could not, obviously, have a party. We give away money on a regular basis. It couldn't be a typical grant. It had to encompass a lot people. It could not, under any circumstances, be stuffy.

This logic led us down a path that ended in Arvada. In two short years, the entire foundation community has seen Colorado Gives Day energize a whole state. It was an effort created by a foundation, but brought to life by the thousands who pulled up a chair, turned on a computer and gave. Supporting Colorado Gives Day and made so much sense.

We had to put our own spin on it, of course. The prizes offered by El Pomar Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation this year and next will go to non-Metro Denver nonprofits because both foundations are committed to making an impact statewide. To that same end, look for even greater expansion next year, as a grant from El Pomar Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation will allow Community First Foundation to work with specific communities throughout Colorado that want to take local ownership of and Colorado Gives Day.      

Now that you know the back story, we do hope you will join us in giving to your favorite nonprofit on December 4. We can say, with 150 years of combined experience, that giving is very, very phun.