Ask Eartha: Colorado Gives Day steers season away from consumerism (column) | SummitDaily.com

Ask Eartha: Colorado Gives Day steers season away from consumerism (column)

Eartha Steward
Special to the Daily

Community and Family

Dear Eartha,

What is "Giving Tuesday" and "Colorado Gives Day"? It seems I am inundated with requests for giving this time of year. Why is that, and why is important to give now? — Deborah, Silverthorne

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday — it seems that the biggest day of giving "thanks" is followed by almost a week of consumerism. In an effort to refocus us on what is really important this time of year, #Giving Tuesday and Colorado Gives Day were established to bring together the Colorado and global community to create real change.

Deborah, it does seem like we are overwhelmed with requests to give this time of year. The Steward household has a mailbox full of appeal letters from various organizations from all over the state and country right now. The reason being is that 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.

Giving Tuesday is in its fourth year and occurred on Dec. 1. The social-media campaign was the brain child of the 92nd Street Y, a cultural center in New York City. The day connects diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: To celebrate and encourage giving. Giving Tuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges.

The 6th Annual Colorado Gives Day will be happening on Tuesday, Dec. 8 and 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. Colorado Gives Day is one of the most successful events of its kind in the nation.

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Colorado Gives Day supports over 1,800 Colorado 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 breaking $35.8 million to Colorado nonprofits. 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.

So, now that you know the importance of giving this time of year, and the significant days where your donation dollars go further, the more important question you should be asking is, "How do I choose where to donate my precious, hard-earned dollars?" We all know how financially hard it can be to live here in the High Country, so even if you can only donate a few dollars, you will want to be sure that they make the most impact for you in your community. First, think about causes that you are passionate about or one that resonates with you. Maybe you love the outdoors, want to protect the environment or have adopted a pet from a shelter. Think about services you have received or benefitted from. In order to leverage your gift to the fullest extent, look up the organization or search by cause on http://www.coloradogives.org. Once you find an organization you'd like to give to, schedule your donation for Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 8 where you 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 eartha@highcountryconservation.org.