Ask Eartha: Give where you live |

Ask Eartha: Give where you live

Dear Eartha,

This year I would like to support an organization that does good work in our community. How can I find out more and make sure my donation goes a long way?

— Jasmine, Frisco

Thank you for your consideration in supporting your community, Jasmine. You are a philanthropist in the making! Did you know that the origin of the word “philanthropy” means a love of humanity? It is an underlying component of what is means to be a community. By annually supporting a nonprofit organization, you are helping it to achieve its mission and be of service to the community.

This time of year is especially important for charities and other nonprofit organizations that provide services.

Unlike businesses and corporations, nonprofits rely on annual giving campaigns to raise money for the following year’s programs and services. Annual giving is one of the most important areas in a nonprofit’s fundraising efforts and can come in many forms. You might see letters of appeal in the mail, email blasts, newsletters or online campaigns. As a taxpayer, your donation can be deducted from your taxes in an effort to encourage giving to those organizations that play important roles in your local community.

This year, Dec. 9 is Colorado Gives Day. The theme is “Give Where You Live” and it encourages philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. Community First Foundation and FirstBank have partnered to present Colorado Gives Day since 2010. In addition to raising money, Colorado Gives Day raises awareness of the state’s nonprofit sector, unites Coloradans in a common goal to strengthen the state’s nonprofits and educates communities on the benefits of online giving by making fundraising simple for nonprofits and easy for donors.

To date, the program has distributed $58.1 million to Colorado nonprofits. Colorado Gives Day is one of the most successful events of its kind in the nation.

In its fifth year, Colorado Gives Day supports more than 1,500 nonprofits by providing an online profile, fundraising tools and resources to communicate with their constituents.

Last year, Colorado Gives Day raised and distributed a record $20.9 million to Colorado nonprofits. This year, FirstBank has provided a $1 Million Incentive Fund to nonprofits that participate in Colorado Gives Day, which increases the value of every dollar raised.

Some donors can request a match as well. For example, if a donor wants to give $5,000 with a match, the nonprofit must raise the match request in order to receive the initial donation. This would equal a total of $10,000, which can make a huge impact for a small organization. The matching process allows people who can’t afford to donate large amounts to contribute and still leverage a significant donation for the organization.

In 2013, 17 Summit County nonprofit organizations participated in and benefited from Colorado Gives Day. Together, those organizations raised a total of $92,487, which was an increase of more than 16 percent.

So how do you choose which organization to support?

Well, first consider what matters to you in your own life. Do you have a cause or particular interest to you? Perhaps you value arts and culture or environmental conservation. Maybe there’s a family friend who benefits from family services or the local food bank. Summit County has nearly 100 charitable and nonprofit organizations working on a variety of causes, so there’s probably an organization out there that is already hard at work providing those particular services to the community. In order to leverage your gift to the fullest extent, look up the organization or search by cause on Once you find an organization you’d like to give to, schedule your donation for Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 9, when your dollar will go a long way.

Local nonprofits will be very thankful for the support you provide this holiday season. Organizations will be able to better plan for the upcoming year, and you might just start a long and generous philanthropic tradition.

Don’t forget to write off your gifts during tax season. All donations to nonprofit organizations are tax deductible.

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at

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