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.