EAGLE COUNTY — The good idea that is Colorado Gives Day seems to be really catching on in its fourth year.
The now-annual event — held this year on Dec. 10 — is a 24-hour window in which people can make donations to select charities. Thanks to Colorado-based 1stBank, those donations are processed without incurring any credit-card fees — a donation of roughly $250,000. That means more money goes into the participating nonprofit groups.
Across the state, nearly 88,000 donors gave more than $20 million to 1,442 nonprofit groups. Those are big increases in donors, money raised and groups participating. That strong upward trend came to Eagle County, too.
According to early reports, more than 1,800 donations were made in Eagle County. Those donations, to 34 nonprofit groups, added up to nearly $700,000, far exceeding organizers’ estimates of a $500,000 day.
Opportunity to Give
This was the first year the Vail Mountain Rescue Group participated in Colorado Gives Day, raising about $1,675.
“It was about what we expected,” group spokesman Dan Smith said. “There are still people here who don’t know about us.”
Smith, who also serves as board of directors president for the Vail Valley Salvation Army, said between online donations and the opportunity to “round up” restaurant or hotel bills to the next dollar, Colorado Gives Day is a good chance for more people to send financial help to groups they support.
“It gives people who don’t go to $500 a person golf tournaments a chance to support us,” Smith said.
The Salvation Army received nearly $35,000 from about 110 donors, money that will go toward the local charity’s operations from its food pantry to rent assistance and more.
“We’re very excited about it,” Salvation Army director Tsu Wolin-Brown said.
The Salvation Army has participated in the event since its inception in 2010, so that group has gone through the extensive paperwork required to be an approved nonprofit on the Colorado Gives Day website. That approval process includes providing the Community First Foundation, which runs the event, information about finances, programs and overhead costs among other things.
The Eagle County Humane Society was a first-year participant this year, and had a good day, raising more than $23,000. Humane director Char Quinn said since this was the first year participating in Colorado Gives Day, no one in the group had any expectations about results. That means the money raised this year will go toward day-to-day expenses including medical care for animals, as well as funding for a growing number of animal cruelty investigations.
Beyond the help, Quinn said the Humane Society heard from many new donors, which might expand the group’s donor base in years to come.
bringing people together
Local nonprofits participating in Colorado Gives Day all worked together to coordinate the promotional campaign for the event. That process gave people who normally don’t work together a chance to get to know each other, something Quinn said was another positive part of the program.
“I’m so proud of our nonprofit community coming together for this,” said Jason Denhart, who heads the board of Eagle County Gives, the local group coordinating Colorado Gives Day efforts. “All these groups have an impact on the quality of life in the valley.”
While local nonprofits worked together, there are some bonuses available for the groups that raised the most money. Eagle County Gives this year received a $22,000 grant — and another $4,000 for advertising — from the El Pomar and Boettcher foundations as a reward for being named one of three “regional champion” organizations in the state. That money will be awarded to local groups based on their donor numbers and money raised, Denhart said.
This year’s results, both in Eagle County and around the state, might have something to do with an improving economy, Denhart said. But it could also have something to do with the fact there were more groups participating, too. Whatever the reason, Denhart said the work has been worthwhile.
“It’s been fun to have been involved in something so rewarding,” he said.