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. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Pride, Eggplants, and a Case for Spreading the Word

By Lisa Lujan, Online Giving Coordinator

I’m not going to lie, I’m proud.

I’m proud to be a part of the ColoradoGives program at Community First Foundation because I love helping other people. I’m always a little thrown back when people ask where I work, then look at me like I have eggplants growing out of my ears when I enthusiastically reply, “I’m part of the ColoradoGives program at Community First Foundation!” 

Even though I’m thrown back, it’s okay. It’s okay because it’s a great opportunity to tell them what I do, how important our nonprofits are to the community, and why we should support them.

We know that for many of you, this season – especially Colorado Gives Day on December 6 – is one of the most important fundraising periods of the year. That’s why I’m encouraging you to share the ways people can get involved with ColoradoGives.org on Colorado Gives Day. Shout it from the rooftops! Tell friends and family to do the same. If we all tell one new person, think what the impact could be.

Here are the less obvious ways you and your friends and family can get involved in the excitement of the day:
  • Join the ColoradoGives Day Corporate Challenge presented by the Denver Business Journal or encourage other businesses to do so. In its third year, the Corporate Challenge pits companies against themselves in a fun and friendly competition to raise money for the more than 2,000 Colorado nonprofits participating in Colorado Gives Day.
  • Buy a GivingeCard for your favorite kiddo to use on our newest site, KidsforColoradoGives.org, to get the whole family involved in the day.
  • Makea fundraising page for your favorite nonprofit, email it out, put it on social media and  encourage friends and family to give.
  • Schedule your donation! Especially on November 29, which is #GivingTuesday nationally, remember that in Colorado, the way we participate in #GivingTuesday is by scheduling our #COGivesDay donations. Of course, you can schedule a donation anytime between now and Colorado Gives Day.
  • Join us November 29 (#GivingTuesday) on the Capitol’s West Steps for our annual Colorado Gives Day Rally!

No matter how you choose to participate in the day, be proud, Colorado, and proud to give where you live!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Great Big Thank-You to our Colorado Gives Day Media Sponsors

By Kayla Arnesen, Director of Strategic Communications
Thanks to our wonderful Colorado Gives Day media sponsors, our statewide movement is receiving nearly $500,000 in donated print, online, on-air, bus board and billboard media support. These powerful partnerships help us spread the word about Colorado Gives Day. We are pleased to welcome a new sponsor this year, Outdoor Promotions of Colorado, which is sharing the Colorado Gives Day message on 20 bus stop shelters located around the Denver metro area.

If you have the opportunity to interact with any of our sponsors, please thank them for their outstanding support:


Keep an eye out for Colorado Gives Day banners at bus shelters like this one in Arvada!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rally at the Capitol - Six Tips for Making the Most of the Event

By Samantha Barlow, Communications Coordinator at Community First Foundation

At the end of the month, hundreds of individuals will celebrate Colorado’s thriving nonprofit sector and rally in support of Colorado Gives Day.

The Colorado Gives Day Rally happens Tuesday, November 29 at 11 a.m. (rain, snow or shine) on the Capitol’s West Steps.

This year’s rally is taking place a full week before Colorado Gives Day. We want to capitalize on the charitable momentum of #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by social media, to encourage Coloradans to donate locally through ColoradoGives.org. In Colorado, the way we participate in #GivingTuesday is by scheduling our Colorado Gives Day donations.

The Rally is the last “big hurrah” before Colorado Gives Day (December 6). If you are a participating ColoradoGives nonprofit and can get to the Capitol building on November 29, read on! 

Here are six tips to help you make the most of the event: 
  1. Date: Tuesday, November 29 on the West Steps of the Colorado State Capitol (Lincoln and Colfax). Parking is challenging so arrive early. 
  2. Time: We begin with remarks promptly at 11:00 a.m. and finish by 11:20 a.m. Governor Hickenlooper will join us and proclaim December 6, 2016 as Colorado Gives Day. 
  3. What to bring: Generally, two to four people to represent your organization is best. We welcome signs and banners of all shapes and sizes. We also encourage “selfies” and lots of social media posts using #COGivesDay
  4. The media is invited: This is a visual event designed for picture-taking and news coverage. There are no opportunities to hand out information or perform. 
  5. Bundle up: The entire event is outside so please dress for the weather. 
  6. Prizes: FirstBank will be conducting five live drawings for $1,000 cash prizes. Four prizes will go to nonprofits in attendance. One prize will go to a nonprofit located outside of metro Denver.* The first 60 individuals to arrive will also receive giving eCards with “Donations Dollars” to use on KidsforColoradoGives.org

*If you are a ColoradoGives nonprofit outside of the Denver area, please register to participate in the fifth drawing. One registration per nonprofit.


Nonprofits gather for the 2015 Colorado Gives Day Rally.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It’s Time – Schedule Your Colorado Gives Day Donations!

By Samantha Barlow, Communications Coordinator at Community First Foundation

Q. Would you say you’re more of a planner or a procrastinator?

A. Planner.
You're going to be thrilled. Do we ever have the tool for you! Starting today, November 1, you can schedule all of your Colorado GivesDay donations. These donations will process on Colorado Gives Day, December 6, and still qualify for the giving day perks like the $1 Million Incentive Fund.

A. Procrastinator.
You're in good company. As a fellow procrastinator, ColoradoGives has just the tool to help us kick the habit. Starting today, November 1, we can schedule our Colorado Gives Day donations to make sure we don’t miss our chance to support nonprofits working to make our communities better. Scheduled donations will process on Colorado Gives Day, December 6, and will receive a boost from the $1 Million Incentive Fund.

How Scheduling Your Donations Works
Take your time, explore the variety of nonprofits serving your community and schedule donations at your leisure. When you’re ready, follow these five easy steps:
  • Go to ColoradoGives.org. Search for nonprofits or fundraising pages.
  •  Press the orange “Donate” button on the search result listing. Add your donation amount and press the “CO Gives Day” button to schedule it to process on December 6, 2016.
  • Complete the other fields and click “Add to Cart.”
  • Want to donate to more than one organization? Click on the “add more nonprofits to cart” button on the next page and keep going! Please note, if you want to add nonprofits to your cart over the course of several hours or days and checkout at a later time, you can save the items in your cart by logging into or creating a donor account.
  • Once all your scheduled donations are in your cart, finish checking out by clicking the “Checkout” button, logging into or creating a donor account, entering your payment information, and then pressing submit.
Be sure to click the "CO Gives Day" button to schedule a donation for December 6, 2016, and take advantage of the $1 Million Incentive Fund.
Please note you will receive an acknowledgement email indicating you have scheduled a donation. On Colorado Gives Day, you will receive a second email that confirms your donations have been processed. A copy of this email will also be stored on your donor account and can be accessed at any time. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Monday, October 31, 2016

FirstBank Prizes: Who Doesn’t Like a Little Extra?

By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist, Community First Foundation

FirstBank, corporate partner for Colorado Gives Day, is giving nonprofits participating in the 24 giving blitz a chance to add even more to their coffers. Like previous years, FirstBank is contributing $500,000 towards the $1 Million Incentive Fund plus $100,000 in cash prizes. The cash prizes are a fun way to bring in a little extra. 

$100,000 in Cash Prizes
Here’s the breakdown of this year’s prizes. Our tried and true prize categories have returned, along with one that is new and different:

  • Facebook Trivia Prizes – 15 prizes at $1,000 each
  • Rally Prizes – 10 prizes at $1,000 each
  • Luck-of-the-Draw Prizes – 13 prizes at $5,000 each
  • Kids for ColoradoGives Prizes – 1,000 prizes at $10 each

Something New for Kids
This year we’re allocating $10,000 for nonprofits receiving donations through KidsforColoradoGives.org, our new website for young givers. As a kid-friendly component of ColoradoGives.org, this site makes online giving fun and safe for children.

To promote Colorado nonprofits and the site, we are distributing what we call “Donation Dollars” to kids around the state. These virtual funds become real gifts when kids use them to make donations on KidsforColoradoGives.org through December 6.

For prize details, visit the ColoradoGives.org prize page and read the handy FAQs for Colorado Gives Day. Good luck!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

KidsforColoradoGives.org Launches With Event at the Denver School of the Arts

By Samantha Barlow, Communications Coordinator, Community First Foundation

Now there's a special place for kids on Colorado Gives Day! Community First Foundation has launched Kids for ColoradoGives, a new Colorado-based online giving program designed for kids and families.

KidsforColoradoGives.org is a kid-friendly component of the ColoradoGives.org website where young donors can experience the joy of giving in a fun, safe environment.

At the launch event at the Denver School of the Arts on September 15, 2016, Colorado Lt. Governor Donna Lynne remarked, “This website helps kids learn about all the ways local nonprofits make our lives better and has the power to inspire a lifetime of charitable giving. Kids for ColoradoGives is the only giving program that offers a real-world giving experience in a trusted, safe online environment." The Lt. Governor is serving as a Kids for ColoradoGives program ambassador.

Lt. Governor Donna Lynne introduces Kids for ColoradoGives to
275 students at the Denver School of the Arts.
As  part of the launch, FirstBank gave every 6th and 7th grade student in attendance $10 to experience the joy of giving. Students are able to give their donation dollars to a nonprofit on KidsforColoradoGives.org immediately or save and donate on Colorado Gives Day, December 6, 2016.


Help inspire the next generation of givers!

Introduce your children and grandchildren to the fun and joy of charitable giving through KidsforColoradoGives.org, and help them become part of the biggest giving movement in the state.

The website includes resource pages for kids and for adults. It also features kid-friendly videos that explain nonprofits, why they need donations and how to choose a nonprofit to help.

Here’s how kids can give to Colorado nonprofits through KidsForColoradoGives.org:

  • Parents and grandparents can purchase Giving eCards at KidsforColoradoGives.org and send them to their kids and grandkids by email. Kids then use a Giving eCard code to make online donations to a Colorado charity.
  • Kids and their parents can identify special jobs or projects that kids can do to earn Giving eCards. The cards make great birthday and holiday gifts, too.
  • Buying Giving eCards and making giving decisions as a family is a great way to pass down family values and inspire a lifetime a charitable giving.
A student signs the Kids for ColoradoGives
banner at the launch event.
“We encourage parents and grandparents to use KidsforColoradoGives.org to introduce children to the joy of charitable giving,” said Marla J. Williams, president and CEO, Community First Foundation. “The website includes resource pages for kids and for adults.  It also features kid-friendly videos that explain nonprofits, why they need donations and how to choose a nonprofit to help.”

To learn more about Kids for ColoradoGives and Community First Foundation, visit KidsforColoradoGives.org or call 720.898.5900.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Morris Animal Foundation Ties Colorado Gives Day into National Campaign


By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist, Community First Foundation, and featuring Jackie Poliseo, Donor Relations Specialist, Morris Animal Foundation

Q: Jackie, what does Morris Animal Foundation do?
A: We are one of the only foundations that funds animal health research. We fund scientific studies for companion animals, horses and wildlife globally, but primarily in the United States. We fund a lot of research at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and are headquartered in Denver.

Q: Tell me about your donor base.
A: It’s mostly individuals, including pet owners and animal lovers; but sometimes researchers who are applying for research grants. A lot of veterinarian clinics the memorial program on our website where the veterinarian or client can donate to us in memory of a pet and choose one of our memorial cards. Our donors are nationwide, not just in Colorado.

Q: How do you fundraise?
A: We have two major campaigns per year, with one at the end of year (November and December). They are primarily direct mail, emails and social media, and we usually have our own match. We also have a strong event program, planned giving and giving teams.

Q: As an organization with a national presence, tell me how you incorporate Colorado Gives Day into your fundraising.
A:  Colorado Gives Day is part of our larger end-of-year “Season of Hope” campaign. Because we have national donors, we segment our mailing list to target Colorado donors when we promote Colorado Gives Day through direct mail and email. Segmenting is vital, but we also have a Colorado Gives Day slider on our webpage and do some social media so that all of our supporters are aware of our participation. With social media it’s a little tricky because of our national audience. So our social media presence focuses more on staff participation than use of our organizational sites.

Q: Do you segment your donor base in other ways?
A: Yes, we also segment it according to donor interests. For example, we want to remind golden retriever lovers that they can support the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study on Colorado Gives Day by selecting the “Program” option when they donate on ColoradoGives.org. We also segment donors who gave on that day last year and send them personal emails thanking them for their previous support and encouraging them to give again on Colorado Gives Day.

Q: How do you combine more than one message?
A: On our postcard to Coloradans, we highlight Colorado Gives Day on the front; on the back we promote it with “Don’t Forget” copy about our Season of Hope campaign. The Colorado Gives Day $1 Million Incentive Fund is highlighted in a shaded box.

Q: Do you also participate in #GivingTuesday?
A: Yes, our national donor base enjoys the opportunity to support Morris Animal Foundation on #GivingTuesday. This year we will able to integrate the message provided by Community First Foundation in the Nonprofit Toolkit for our Colorado donors that says “In Colorado, the way we participate in #GivingTuesday is by scheduling our Colorado Gives Day donations.”

Q: Tell us a little about your Colorado Gives Day results.
A: The amount raised has steadily increased from year to year. We had a bump in 2014 when we put more effort into it. We’re also seeing new donors. That shows us how passionate Coloradans are about Colorado Gives Day! It’s definitely worth putting effort into it.

Q: How do you steward Colorado Gives Day donors?
A: No matter the size of their donation, each one gets a handwritten thank you. Since Colorado Gives Day is around the holidays, we often write a note in our holiday card to thank them. These donors then become part of our active donor base.

Q: Anything new planned for this year?
A: Well, we plan to repeat what has been successful in the past, but like the idea of getting kids involved, too.




Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dairy Arts Center Uses Colorado Gives Day to Boost Capital Campaign

By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist, Community First Foundation, and featuring Beth Smith, Development Manager, Dairy Arts Center

Q: The Diary Arts Center in Boulder has really transformed in the last few years! Can you give us an overview of your mission and purpose?
A: The Dairy Arts Center is Boulder’s largest multi-disciplinary community arts center. It houses arts organizations such as theatre and dance, and includes art galleries, performance venues, teaching and dance studios, a cafe and an art-house cinema.We are in the final stages of a major renovation and will finish next summer.


Q: How has The Dairy used Colorado Gives Day to support fundraising?
Q: How did you promote the match?
Photo of matching grants donors makes the "ask" more personal.
Copy includes message that every gift to The Dairy that day increases
The Dairy's share of the $1 Million Incentive Fund.
A: The match was from prominent, well-known arts supporters and helped us pull in another $20,000 in donations. In addition to a direct mail postcard and emails, we used lots of social media. We included a photo of the donors and a personal appeal that I think resonated with people.
Q: That’s a beautiful card and I love the message, “Your gift on Colorado Gives Day gets our heart pumping”! The bullet points really convey the magnitude of the Center’s contributions to the community.

A: I was a new employee in 2013 when we participated in our first Colorado Gives Day, and creating our ColoradoGives profile helped me learn a lot about the Dairy. It’s just a three-person team working on the event—me, the marketing director and ED--so that first year I took advantage of the marketing materials and educational videos in the Nonprofit Toolkit and followed the best practices. In our second year (2014) we based our promotion around a $20,000 match we received.



Q: What did you do last year?
A: Well, last year was amazing because our building was under construction, and we tied our capital campaign/renovation message to Colorado Gives Day. We created a two-color postcard and re-purposed it in emails.


A: In our emails we added the “Donate Now” button from the Nonprofit Toolkit and linked it to our ColoradoGives.org donation
page.


Q: We always recommend including the Colorado Gives Day logo since the branding is becoming very recognizable. You did a nice job with the Incentive Fund and scheduled donations messaging too.
A: Thanks. We also did an on-site event on Colorado Gives Day last year in The Boedecker, our art house cinema. Our Executive Director, Bill Obermeier, gave three presentations about what to expect with our newly renovated Dairy Arts Center. We had a laptop to take online donations. One hundred people came and we received campaign gifts that day. We also had Colorado Gives Day signs and posters everywhere.

Q: What have your overall outcomes been like?
A: Our results have steadily grown: 95 donors and $8,000 raised in 2013, 124 and $20,000 raised in 2014 and $25,000 from 149 donors in 2015. Colorado Gives Day has raised the most money for us in a campaign—particularly in one day. But we’re also excited that we’re seeing new donors each year. That’s why I love Colorado Gives Day—seeing all these new names.

Q: Do you steward these new donors?
A: Absolutely. We send "thank you" postcards with personal notes to all donors that day. Our board and executive director make phone calls to people who donate $500 or more. And the very next day we send a social media blast about total giving.

Q: What have you attributed to the growth in giving?
A: Each year we try to do something bigger and better. The donor match in our second year boosted us up from the previous year.

Q: What are your plans for Colorado Gives Day this year?
A: Since the grand opening of the renovated building is in September, we’ll be tying the two events together. I want to involve our volunteers and board members more—maybe create a staff campaign and use them as advocates. I also want to use more social media. In August we plan our goals and strategy.

Q: Any final comments?
A: I love the hype of Colorado Gives Day!

To learn more about The Dairy Arts Center, visit their ColoradoGives Profile and thedairy.org

Dairy Arts Center Uses Colorado Gives Day to Boost Capital Campaign

By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist, Community First Foundation, and featuring Beth Smith, Development Manager, Dairy Arts Center

Q: The Diary Arts Center in Boulder has really transformed in the last few years! Can you give us an overview of your mission and purpose?
A: The Dairy Arts Center is Boulder’s largest multi-disciplinary community arts center. It houses arts organizations such as theatre and dance, and includes art galleries, performance venues, teaching and dance studios, a cafe and an art-house cinema.We are in the final stages of a major renovation and will finish next summer.

Q: How has The Dairy used Colorado Gives Day to support fundraising?
A: I was a new employee in 2013 when we participated in our first Colorado Gives Day, and creating our ColoradoGives profile helped me learn a lot about the Dairy. It’s just a three-person team working on the event—me, the marketing director and ED--so that first year I took advantage of the marketing materials and educational videos in the Nonprofit Toolkit and followed the best practices. In our second year (2014) we based our promotion around a $20,000 match we received.

Q: How did you promote the match?
A: The match was from prominent, well-known arts supporters and helped us pull in another $20,000 in donations. In addition to a direct mail postcard and emails, we used lots of social media. We included a photo of the donors and a personal appeal that I think resonated with people.


Photo of matching grants donors makes the "ask" more personal.
Copy includes message that every gift to The Dairy that day increases
The Dairy's share of the $1 Million Incentive Fund.
Q: What did you do last year?
A: Well, last year was amazing because our building was under construction, and we tied our capital campaign/renovation message to Colorado Gives Day. We created a two-color postcard and re-purposed it in emails.


Q: That’s a beautiful card and I love the message, “Your gift on Colorado Gives Day gets our heart pumping”! The bullet points really convey the magnitude of the Center’s contributions to the community.
A: In our emails we added the “Donate Now” button from the Nonprofit Toolkit and linked it to our ColoradoGives.org donation
page.


Q: We always recommend including the Colorado Gives Day logo since the branding is becoming very recognizable. You did a nice job with the Incentive Fund and scheduled donations messaging too.
A: Thanks. We also did an on-site event on Colorado Gives Day last year in The Boedecker, our art house cinema. Our Executive Director, Bill Obermeier, gave three presentations about what to expect with our newly renovated Dairy Arts Center. We had a laptop to take online donations. One hundred people came and we received campaign gifts that day. We also had Colorado Gives Day signs and posters everywhere.

Q: What have your overall outcomes been like?
A: Our results have steadily grown: 95 donors and $8,000 raised in 2013, 124 and $20,000 raised in 2014 and $25,000 from 149 donors in 2015. Colorado Gives Day has raised the most money for us in a campaign—particularly in one day. But we’re also excited that we’re seeing new donors each year. That’s why I love Colorado Gives Day—seeing all these new names.

Q: Do you steward these new donors?
A: Absolutely. We send "thank you" postcards with personal notes to all donors that day. Our board and executive director make phone calls to people who donate $500 or more. And the very next day we send a social media blast about total giving.

Q: What have you attributed to the growth in giving?
A: Each year we try to do something bigger and better. The donor match in our second year boosted us up from the previous year.

Q: What are your plans for Colorado Gives Day this year?
A: Since the grand opening of the renovated building is in September, we’ll be tying the two events together. I want to involve our volunteers and board members more—maybe create a staff campaign and use them as advocates. I also want to use more social media. In August we plan our goals and strategy.

Q: Any final comments?
A: I love the hype of Colorado Gives Day!

To learn more about The Dairy Arts Center, visit their ColoradoGives Profile and thedairy.org

Friday, July 15, 2016

Getting Ready for Guests

By Bryce Wilkinson, Senior Online Giving Specialist

Summer. A time for running through sprinklers, riding bikes, vacations and the many other activities long days with sunshine afford. At our house, as I’m sure is also the case for many of you, we typically have friends and family stay with us at various points throughout the summer. Before our guests come, we always tidy up a bit, so everything is in order and looks good when they arrive.

This same concept of getting your house ready for guests applies to your ColoradoGives.org profile.

Each year you are required to complete the entire Profile Update Process. The Profile Update Process is a way to make sure you have reviewed the profile, updated information as necessary, checked for accuracy and uploaded current required documents.

It is important to complete the entire Profile Update Process for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it is a requirement for your profile to remain on ColoradoGives.org, to participate on Colorado Gives Day and to continue accepting donations through the site.

Second, with lots of guests arriving at your profile in the coming months, you should be ready to present your organization as best you can. A good first impression, especially for guests you hope will donate to you, can be critical. If you do not care enough to make sure your profile is up-to-date and accurate, why should a donor choose to support you?

To help you complete the entire Profile Update Process, please use the Profile Update Process Document that outlines what needs to be done and how to do it. In general terms, there are four aspects to the Profile Update Process:

  1. Upload Tax Year 2014 Document
  2. Click on the “Mark Profile Updated” button
  3. Review Contacts, Users, and the New Programs question
  4. Upload Current Certificate of Registration and Current Certificate of Good Standing

The deadline to complete the entire Profile Update Process is Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 5:00 PM. (Save this date to your calendar: Outlook or Google).

Don’t forgot to clean-up your profile this summer as you prepare for your guests!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

What It Means to Be a Champion

By Samantha Barlow, Communications Coordinator

Susie Davis presents on Eagle County Gives' strategies for helping local nonprofits work with businesses to maximize donations.
In June, seven current and prospective Regional Champions gathered at Community First Foundation’s Meeting Space to build community, share ideas and learn about new programs, website enhancements and ways to help nonprofits better steward donors.

ColoradoGives Regional Champions partner with us to increase online giving in regions beyond metro Denver. They extend the “Give Where You Live” message by providing support, outreach and awareness to the local nonprofits in their communities.

We interviewed Susie Davis with Eagle County Gives to get an insider’s view of our day in June:

Q. How long have you been involved with ColoradoGives as a Regional Champion?

A. Eagle County Gives was an early adopter. Through the collective efforts of several Eagle County nonprofits over the past four years, we formed a new local community foundation called Our Community Foundation. I staff Our Community Foundation and we are the fiscal agent for Eagle County Gives. Bringing more than 42 local nonprofits together is the direct result of Colorado Gives Day. When nonprofits work together, communities thrive.

Q. How did the Learning Day fit into your experience as a Regional Champion?

A. The Learning Day provided me with an array of possibilities for growth as I learned what other Champions across the state are accomplishing. Colorado Gives Day celebrates the spirit of giving throughout the state. It also highlights the great work across the state of the nonprofit sector…THAT is social impact!

Q. Was the Learning Day what you expected? Were there any surprises?

A. Those of us in the nonprofit sector are often on the other side of gatherings like this: planning, executing, and delivering.  How nice to have a day that was thoughtfully planned, giving us time to get together with others from around Colorado, to learn as a group, to consider ways to implement new innovations within our own region and to be well-fed and cared for — great day!

Q. Any final thoughts?

A. The conveners, catalysts, and leverage-makers are often in the background, doing the work and making the magic happen. Community First Foundation is our magic maker!  This is my first year as a part of Eagle County Gives and I look forward to listening and learning from this amazing group and am eager to bring new opportunities for partnership together.

Visit ColoradoGives.org to learn more about each of our Regional Champions.

If you are interested in becoming a Regional Champion, please contact Dana Rinderknecht, Director of Online Giving, at 720.898.5911 or drinderknecht@CommunityFirstFoundation.org.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Three Tips for How to Answer The "Should We Be on That?" Social Media Question

By Lisa Lujan, Online Giving Coordinator

Should we be on Instagram? I’ve heard that Snapchat is the latest, can you get us on that? Is Google+ still relevant? Why aren’t we on YouTube?

If you’re like me, not only have you heard some of these questions before, you’ve asked them of yourself. The truth is there are a LOT of ways to use social media to engage with your audience today. It seems like I can’t get through a week without hearing about “the latest and greatest” new platform we HAVE to be on. It can definitely feel a little overwhelming at times. So how do you know if your organization should be on a specific social media platform or not?

To help answer this question, I’ve come up with a few tips I’ve learned over the years to help you narrow down which platform(s) might be best for your organization.

The first tip is… Know your audience. It’s an old adage, but, unlike the constantly changing tech environment we live in, it remains consistently true. If your audience doesn’t spend time in a social media space, neither should you. If you don’t know your audience’s social media behaviors well, it can take a great deal of trial and error to learn what platforms they engage with, which leads us to tip two…

Do your research. Not just about the platform itself, but also your audience. Take any information you have about them and turn it into actionable data. Look at where they live, and whether that might give you clues about some of their interests. How do they engage with your organization? If you wanted to get really in-depth you could even create a fictional profile (or profiles) of your ideal audience member(s). What are their interests? Likes? Dislikes? Cultural background? Education? Income? An easier track might be to survey those who are already engaged with you to see what social media they’re using (board members, volunteers, donors, etc.).

So now you know your audience, and you’ve done your research, what’s next? That brings us to the third tip… Be aware of your bandwidth. How much time can you realistically devote to this medium? For example, if you’ve determined that a majority of your audience is on Instagram, you should seriously consider being on Instagram, but only if you’re going to put in the time and actually use it to engage regularly with your audience. The last thing you want to do is leave your audience high and dry. Nothing is more disappointing than wanting to connect with an organization on a social media platform only to learn they haven’t posted anything in six months. It’s like when I want to listen to my favorite podcast only to have them not post for that week – major bummer (but I digress).


Now, at the end of the day, when your boss comes to you and asks, “Should we be on Nextdoor?” at least you have some tools to help you build a recommendation.

This article originally posted by Tech4Good Denver - t4gdenver.org/news-resources-type/three-tips-answer-social-media-question.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Crisis Planning for Colorado Gives Day

By Dana Rinderknecht, Director of Online Giving

Tuesday, May 3, was Give Local America Day 2016. This giving day allows communities around the country to do something similar to Colorado Gives Day. This year there was a technology glitch in most of the communities causing the online fundraising platform, Kimbia, to go down for almost 10 hours in the middle of the day. I was asked by Beth Kanter to write a blog about our crisis planning process for Colorado Gives Day, and we thought Colorado Nonprofits might find this informative.

Lessons from Give Local America Day
On Give Local America Day community foundations across the country rally to support local nonprofits in what is marketed as the largest community-driven crowdfunding event of the year. As a self-proclaimed Gives Day Junkie, I love giving days. We have not participated in Give Local America Day, but ColoradoGives.org has completed six gives days and over the course of these we have raised over $111 million dollars for Colorado nonprofits. These days are an amazing tribute to nonprofits and donors coming together to not only raise money (and they raise lots), but to also raise awareness of the amazing work nonprofits are doing to support their communities and make them better places to live.

But this past Give Local America Day, technology did not work. It was the stuff nightmares are made of for both technology providers and program staff. In fact, most of the large gives days across the country have experienced some type of technology failure on their day of giving. Our provider once likened it to taking a yearlong class and this one 24 hour period is your final exam. It is because of this scenario that crisis planning and management is essential and ever evolving.

We sat down our first year, 2010, and created what I thought was a pretty good list of all the potential issues that could happen on our day. It ranged from a blizzard (our day is in December) to electricity outages to our technology going down. Colorado Gives Day that year went extremely well with only a couple of minor glitches related to sending out the “thank you for your donation” emails. In 2011, we added more to our plans including conversations around how would we communicate any issues and adding more scenarios to what could go wrong. And it did. Our site went down for what seemed like a lifetime but in reality was about 45 minutes. Have you ever held your breath for that long? I think I did! It was excruciatingly painful for everyone involved. We ended up, like several of the gives days did last week, extending our day for 12 hours that year. Then we worked on figuring out what went wrong, how we could have communicated better to all involved, and how we could minimize the effects of any future issues.

We are extremely lucky because we have a corporate partner in our efforts that is very involved in our success and works with us to be better at what we do. They have helped us hone in on our crisis management planning. What does this mean? It means we started by bringing together our technology provider, key staff members, and experts from our partner to spend an entire day looking at every single thing we could possible think of related to the day. The list is long and includes all aspects of technology from platform infrastructure and architecture to security both physical and technical. We look at a number of potential issues:

  • What happens if the facility where we host our data servers has a power failure?
  • What happens if we have a power failure at our location?
  • What happens if the phones go down?
  • What happens if we have some type of human error?

The spreadsheet we use has a line for each of the possible threats to our having a successful day. We then look at each line and determine the probability of it happening and what the impact would be. Combining these two things creates what we call raw risk – low, medium, or high. For all of the high and medium threats, we look at mitigating controls. How much can we keep this issue from happening or how much can we minimize its effects if it does happen? Who is responsible?

Once we finished this process, we sat down and worked on plans around what we would do if these happened. To formulate these plans, we included our entire staff. Some of these plans are very simple and some are, as you would expect, very complex. Each plan is reviewed in our staff meetings, so that everyone has a basic idea of the action plan if something were to happen. And we have actually used these plans other days of the year when we have had issues. They have also been a great way to look at our general operations. We do live in Colorado and snow is going to happen!

I am not going to lie; crisis planning is not fun and can really hurt your brains as you start thinking about everything that can go wrong. What I saw last Tuesday from an outsider is that those who had done this at their local level had a little less painful day than those who didn’t.

It has been several years since our technology glitch, and I still have PTSD when our phones start ringing even a little more than normal or the pages on our site don’t load as fast as I think they should. We are still continuing to hone our plans as we learn more, as the world of technology changes, and as we watch giving days around the country. I learned several things last Tuesday about things we should put in our plans to make them more robust.

Colorado Gives Day Rally 2015
When planning a giving day in your community, I don’t believe crisis management is generally something on the top of your list. These days are so much fun and there are so many wonderful things that happen that are way beyond just the dollars raised. But crisis management is something that needs to be considered and thought out carefully.

In the coming weeks, several blogs and articles will be written about what happened and how it could have gone differently. But, did I tell you I was a Gives Day Junkie? These days in general are still amazing and wonderful ways to introduce donors to nonprofits and the excitement of participating in making their communities stronger!

Read more at BethKanter.org/crisisplan.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Blog 2: Tips on How to Read Form 990

By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist


We’re back with the second half of our discussion about how to read Form 990. Our first blog explained the purpose and value of Form 990 and how the summary page can give us a quick snapshot of a nonprofit’s financial health. Now we learn how to dig a little deeper.


Q: Beyond the Form 990 summary page, what other sections can help a donor evaluate a nonprofit’s financial health?

The most common areas that are relevant to donors are:

Part VI: Governance, Management & Disclosure
  • Sections A & B. These sections are a series of questions about a nonprofit’s board of directors and its policies. Section A discloses how the nonprofit is managed and governed. Section B discloses the policies the board has adopted. Many of the policies referenced, such as a Conflict of Interest policy, are considered best practices for nonprofits operations.

Part VIII: Statement of Revenue
  • Types of Funding. This section tells you how an organization is funded, such as through membership dues, events, government grants, program services, and investments. Evaluate the proportions of these sources and ask yourself if you think the organization can sustain major changes in any of these areas. Generally, multiple sources of revenue is a sign of good financial health because the organization isn’t relying on just one source of revenue.

Part IX: Statement of Functional Expenses
  • This section identifies where the organization spent its money. Take a closer look at anything inconsistent with the type and amount of expenses you would expect for the organization to fulfill its mission. 
  • Program Expenses. Generally, watchdog groups say a nonprofit should spend about 65 percent of its expenses on programs and 35 percent on administrative overhead and fundraising costs combined. However, this ratio depends on the nature of the nonprofit’s work, its location, sources of revenue and more. It can help to compare organizations of similar size and mission to get a sense of typical ratios. Nonetheless, financial ratios can provide insights, but do not measure the organization’s impact.
    • To calculate these percentages, take the total from Column B (Program Service Expenses) and divide by Column A. Then multiply by 100 for the percentage of expenses spent on program services. Next add the totals for Columns C & D (Management & General Expenses and Fundraising Expenses), divide by total expenses, and multiply by 100 for percentage of expenses spent in these areas. 
    • On Line 19 from Part I: Summary, revenue less expenses, a positive number will indicate that the nonprofit brought in more revenue than it spent, commonly called “in the black.” 

Schedule O
  • Finally, supplemental Schedule O is a nonprofit’s opportunity to elaborate on their financial numbers and activities in narrative form. This section may shed light on questions that may arise from reviewing the numbers alone.

We hope this overview gives you the confidence to tackle the Form 990 and feel good about your donations. For more information, visit these resources: