The holiday season is traditionally the time of giving, whether it’s spending time with friends, buying gifts for family or deciding which charitable organization to support. While donations to nonprofit organizations can be given at any time, there’s one day a year when that donation can go a little further.
This is the fourth year for Colorado Gives Day, which takes place Tuesday, Dec. 10. It’s a statewide initiative created by the Community First Foundation, a Denver area nonprofit organization, working alongside FirstBank.
In 2010, the Community First Foundation launched the Giving First website, a platform for nonprofits throughout the state. Each organization is given a page, at no cost, to put up information about itself and receive donations. While donations can be given on the website year-round, on Colorado Gives Day, all credit card and processing fees are waived for a 24-hour period. This means that 100 percent of the donation goes directly to the organization.
In addition, each year FirstBank offers to match the donations up to a certain amount. In the past, the bank matched between $100,000 to $500,000 of all donations. That money then goes back to the participating nonprofits, in percentages depending on how much each raised.
“When folks are giving through Colorado Gives Day, their contribution supports us 100 percent,” said Kasey Geoghegan, director of development at The Summit Foundation. She called the addition of the matching funds a “significant component” of the benefit of the event. “Over the past couple years we have received an average of an additional $500 in contribution just from the incentive funds.”
At least 20 Summit nonprofits are participating and can receive donations on Colorado Gives Day.
“We set a goal to try to raise $2,000 which will help us provide 40 nights of shelter at our safe house,” said Amy Jackson, executive director of Advocates for Victims of Assault. “Last year we raised about $1,500 this year we’re trying to reach $2,000 and help us end the year on a strong note. We just think it’s a fun event.”
Donors can link to the Colorado Gives Day website through links on the organizations’ websites, as well as searching on the Giving First site. The site can be searched by organization name, city or ZIP code.
“I think it’s just really special that people have the opportunity to give back to organizations that they care about,” said Brandi Thompson, development specialist at the Summit Community Care Clinic, one of the local beneficiaries of Colorado Gives Day. “It’s so important. We already have such a generous community that (donates) already, but it’s nice that (the event) is getting the media coverage and the whole state is getting together and focusing on philanthropy that day.”
Being part of a searchable database has helped local organizations, who have received donations from people outside of the county as well.
“Because they’re on the one (Giving First) site, exploring what nonprofits exist in their communities, we have received a number of first-time contributions from people we had not yet been connected to, in the past two years,” Geoghegan said.
To capitalize on the potential of Colorado Gives Day, some of the organizations involved have set up their own matching incentive programs. The High Country Conservation Center is one of those. A local donor has offered to match donations up to $5,000 this year, giving the organization the goal to raise $10,000 in 24 hours.
“It’s going to support all of our programs, so that includes our community garden programs, our waste reduction education and then energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Jen Schenk, executive director at HC3.
Donations to charitable organizations are tax-deductible, and Colorado Gives Day occurs before the end of the year. It offers an opportunity for those who haven’t given yet to make a donation, or even several different donations to various organizations all at once and in one place.
“Every little bit helps,” said Thompson. “I encourage everyone to reach out and donate on Colorado Gives Day.”