State campaign lets you ‘give where you live’

Locals can join in day of charity across Colorado

For the third year in a row, Coloradans across the state will join in giving to a favorite cause on a single day, Tuesday.

“Our motto is ‘24 hours to give where you live,’” said Caitlin Jenney, communications manager for Community First Foundation, which organizes the day of giving online – fee free. “Donors know the charities on our list are legitimate and have been screened. We have 1,200 this year, up from 928 last year.”

Many of the nonprofits on the website are on the Front Range, but six are either based in Durango or provide services here. They are SOS Outreach, Habitat for Humanity of La Plata County, United Way of Southwest Colorado, Rocky Mountain PBS, The Colorado Trail Foundation and Rocky Mountain Wild Inc.

The local chapter of the League of Women Voters also is encouraging its supporters to donate to its state Education Fund on the big day.

The event, which had a goal of $1 million in 2010 and brought in $8.4 million, raised $12.4 million last year.

Tim Walsworth, CEO and president of United Way, said this is the second year his organization has been included on the Giving First website and in Colorado Gives Day.

“There are real advantages to give on that day for donors,” he said. “For a lot, it’s just so easy to put it on a credit card, but there are usually fees for that, up to 2.75 percent. If you’re making a four-figure gift, you look at that 2 percent in fees, and think, hmm.”

FirstBank, which is continuing as a co-sponsor of the event for the third year, is donating $600,000, part of which will go to eliminate credit card fees, another part to provide matching grants to the nonprofits involved based on how much they raise, Jenney said.

“We didn’t get a lot, but a little bit on top last year,” Walsworth said. “We raised about $2,500 last year and got $75 or $100 extra. We’re hoping to grow that this year. We have a couple of donors who have been waiting for this day.”

Lon Erwin, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, said this is the first year his organization has been involved, and he and his staff have been working to get the word out to supporters.

Other area nonprofits will have an opportunity to sign up for Giving First in March, Jenney said. They must be based in Colorado, have a 501(c)3 tax designation, be in good standing with the secretary of state and have a certain level of financial stability.

She warned that it takes some work to provide all the information requested, another plus for donors who want to delve into the nuts and bolts of a charity before donating.

“It’s not just for metro Denver,” Erwin said. “This can help nonprofits across the state.”

While donations may be made on the website year-round, Tuesday is the only day it is fee-free. And since end-of-year giving is an important part of fundraising for most nonprofits, Walsworth said, he’s gearing up the emails and social media.

“We’ve got Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and now, Giving Tuesday,” he said. “Then it will be I’m Broke Wednesday.”

There’s an advantage to Colorado Gives Day that’s a little more ephemeral.

“It’s kind of neat to be part of something big,” Walsworth said. “It’s a chance to show how generous Colorado really is.”

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