Colorado Gives Day is coming, and we just can’t stop giving

In the course of just seven years, the philanthropic event has become remarkably popular and helped inspire other giving days around the country.

Looking north from the top floor of the newly-completed Country Club Towers, Aug. 16, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Sometime in the next few days, you are very likely to hear the words “Colorado Gives Day.” In the course of just seven years, the philanthropic event has become remarkably popular and helped inspire a wave of other giving days around the country.

Colorado Gives Day, which is on Dec. 5, is basically a giant, statewide campaign to convince people to give money to charitable causes. Donors choose one or more the participating nonprofits, and organizers collect and pass on the money.

When it was created in 2010, only a few other states and regions had “gives” days, according to organizer Dana Rinderknecht, director of online giving for the Community First Foundation.

In that first year, the foundation collected about $8.4 million through the event, which it then redistributed to the participating nonprofits. In 2016, that sum had grown to nearly $34 million, and more than 2,200 nonprofits are now participating.

The most popular categories in 2016 were human services, education and the arts and animal-related nonprofits.

Rinderknecht credits the program’s success to the way it focuses people’s attention. “Donors love the deadline and to have a focus for one day. It gives you a reason to … be part of something bigger than you,” she said.

Over its seven years, the number of donors has multiplied from about 20,000 to nearly 150,000, and similar events have appeared in almost every state.

Laurie McCaw, vice president of marketing and development for Bayaud Enterprises, said that the Gives Day’s website makes donations particularly easy, while the buzz around the day drives a PR boost.

“The campaign’s cumulative results are always impressive and showcase Colorado’s charitable giving efforts and trends. Bayaud has done very well with the campaign,” she wrote in an email.

Lauren Anderson, development officer of philanthropy for the Mental Health Center of Denver, see a similar impact.

“It’s an opportunity for a lot of our donors to give more,” she said. “They say OK, we’re doing a push, it’s the end of the year — and it’s also an opportunity for donors who are just becoming familiar with the organization to do that.”

And, the state’s philanthropists would remind you, it’s not just one day per year. ColoradoGives.org is open year-round.

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.