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The Community First Foundation (CFF) announced that it would do just that and declared December 8, 2010, Colorado Gives Day. According to CFF’s President and CEO Marla Williams, “the overarching goal is to increase philanthropy” and proceeds will benefit more than 520 nonprofit organizations based in Colorado that are profiled on GivingFirst.org.
The registered nonprofits are encouraged to bring in donations for the initiative during this 24-hour period. To prepare the participating nonprofits for success in this initiative, CFF informed us that they, “provided webinars for our nonprofit participants to acquaint them with the event, generate fundraising ideas, and help them with the logistics of completing the profile for their presence on GivingFirst.org.”
Nonprofits that are successful in raising funds will be proportionally rewarded from a special “incentive fund.” Seeded by donations from several businesses and organizations, the incentive fund will provide additional monetary support to Colorado based nonprofits.
A Method to the Madness?
Is this form of local community fundraising through online donation a better way to raise awareness and funds?
Last November, the state of Minnesota conducted a similar program and launched the first ever “Give to the Max Day.” Through this initiative people gave $14 million to support nonprofits in Minnesota, and they did it all online. On November 16, 2010, the program launched for the second time. According to the website, the effort raised more than $10 million with the help of about 40,000 donors.
We also see a rise in the number of fundraising campaigns that are rooted in online donation, or at least include an online donation component. For example, the Salvation Army created online “kettles,” where donors could give online using virtual red kettles. This year the Salvation Army has already surpassed its goal of raising $3 million from online donations and is still going strong.
Specific to Colorado Gives Day, Williams informed us that CFF will use the information and experience from this initiative to “gather input from a cross-section of donors, nonprofit participants and sponsors and will use that information to continue to build and improve Colorado Gives Day and GivingFirst.org.” They also hope to “capture information such as the number of nonprofits that attracted new donors on Colorado Gives Day and the rate at which donors continue to make contributions throughout the year or from one Colorado Gives Day to the next.”
Williams noted that, “Online giving is new to many people and Colorado Gives Day provides excitement and incentives that will entice donors who have not tried online giving to do so. Setting up a secure website to accept online donations is too expensive for many nonprofits. Colorado Gives Day and GivingFirst.org also allow those nonprofits access to donors who prefer online giving. Although Colorado Gives Day is a single 24-hour period, the GivingFirst.org website operates year round to connect donors with nonprofits and encourage charitable giving.”
Other non-traditional fundraising tools and tactics such as text-to-give programs (e.g., mGive Foundation or Mobile Giving Foundation), Facebook Causes and rallying friends to donate on your birthday are also gaining in popularity.
What do you think this shift in fundraising tactics may mean for the nonprofit sector overall? Will one method ultimately prevail when it comes to the future of fundraising?
Give Where You Live
CFF found that many people in their area are highly interested in donating to local charities and organizations. This is particularly significant for Colorado, because the state has one of the lowest giving rates relative to its residents’ incomes in the country.
How do you think this "hyperlocal" factor may impact both local and national nonprofits and the way they raise funds?
Secret to Success
Is it convenience, the ability to research the organization or perhaps simplicity that is driving this push for online donations?
Williams believes that all of these factors may be contributing to the popularity and success of these day-of-giving events. She shares that, “GivingFirst.org is a data rich site that lets the donor review important information about the nonprofit organizations he or she is considering for a possible donation. The site also allows the donor to schedule recurring gifts, which lets the donor budget his or her charitable giving and make it a regular commitment and priority. By making it easier to evaluate and support nonprofits, we hope to increase charitable giving, not just on Colorado Gives day, but throughout the year.”
The nonprofit sector will surely have its eyes on what happens with Colorado Gives Day and whether or not this model can be successfully replicated. From the looks of it, CFF has done a good job of promoting the campaign, preparing the participants and streamlining the process to make sure it is easy to use—all signs point to success. We’ll just have to wait a few more hours to see if it comes to fruition.