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  • Marty Zimmerman

A Passport to Success: How One Nonprofit Amped Up Colorado Gives Day

Before there was Giving Tuesday, the Centennial State embraced its nonprofits with Colorado Gives Day. Starting in 2010, Community First Foundation made a commitment in partnership with 1STBank to encourage charitable giving through this annual statewide movement. Each year, donations from individuals to participating nonprofits get boosted by a $1 million incentive fund. But as Colorado Gives Day grows, the piece of the pie received by nonprofits shrinks.

With numerous competing online donation campaigns, year-end giving appeals, events, and the craziness of the holiday season, how can your organization stand out on Colorado Gives Day?

This year, one of our clients, Heart & Hand Center, took on the challenge of exponentially increasing its fundraising on Colorado Gives Day. The Heart & Hand Center provides nurturing, long-term support for 3rd to 12th grade youth in Northeast Denver through daily after-school and summer programming using a whole child approach.

Each November, Heart & Hand hosts its biggest annual event – the Night in Lights Gala. This has made Colorado Gives Day a challenge for the organization. How could you possibly get someone to give again just weeks after a big event? But this year, Heart & Hand had a new goal - use Colorado Gives Day to bring in new donors through small gifts.

Heart & Heart utilized two strategies to meet this goal:

1. Heart & Hand worked with businesses in the community to create the Five Points Heart Hop on Saturday, December 2nd. Anyone who scheduled a minimum donation prior to the event unlocked discounts and special offers to 10 business in Five Points - Birdcall, Spangalang, 715 Club, Coffee at the Point, Dunbar, Purple Door, Urban Sanctuary, Welton Street Café, Rolling Pin Bakery, and Rosenberg’s. On the day of the event, qualifying participants picked up a passport from a pick-up location and used the passport to receive these special discounts all day long.

2. Heart & Hand partnered with DaVita, which committed up to $5,000 in matching funds for Colorado Gives Day. The partnership also included an advertising campaign on Colorado Public Radio to increase Heart & Hand’s reach.

Mary Cipollone, Executive Director of Heart & Hand Center, shared: “Obviously, in the end the metric is fundraising. If that doesn’t go well, you aren’t excited about anything else.” But, in addition to demolishing their fundraising goal, “we did a lot in terms of building community awareness of Heart & Hand and bringing new people into our work.”

Learn more about how Heart & Hand Center empowers all young people to realize their potential at their website,

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