Friday, August 26, 2016

Morris Animal Foundation Ties Colorado Gives Day into National Campaign

By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist, Community First Foundation, and featuring Jackie Poliseo, Donor Relations Specialist, Morris Animal Foundation

Q: Jackie, what does Morris Animal Foundation do?
A: We are one of the only foundations that funds animal health research. We fund scientific studies for companion animals, horses and wildlife globally, but primarily in the United States. We fund a lot of research at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and are headquartered in Denver.

Q: Tell me about your donor base.
A: It’s mostly individuals, including pet owners and animal lovers; but sometimes researchers who are applying for research grants. A lot of veterinarian clinics the memorial program on our website where the veterinarian or client can donate to us in memory of a pet and choose one of our memorial cards. Our donors are nationwide, not just in Colorado.

Q: How do you fundraise?
A: We have two major campaigns per year, with one at the end of year (November and December). They are primarily direct mail, emails and social media, and we usually have our own match. We also have a strong event program, planned giving and giving teams.

Q: As an organization with a national presence, tell me how you incorporate Colorado Gives Day into your fundraising.
A:  Colorado Gives Day is part of our larger end-of-year “Season of Hope” campaign. Because we have national donors, we segment our mailing list to target Colorado donors when we promote Colorado Gives Day through direct mail and email. Segmenting is vital, but we also have a Colorado Gives Day slider on our webpage and do some social media so that all of our supporters are aware of our participation. With social media it’s a little tricky because of our national audience. So our social media presence focuses more on staff participation than use of our organizational sites.

Q: Do you segment your donor base in other ways?
A: Yes, we also segment it according to donor interests. For example, we want to remind golden retriever lovers that they can support the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study on Colorado Gives Day by selecting the “Program” option when they donate on We also segment donors who gave on that day last year and send them personal emails thanking them for their previous support and encouraging them to give again on Colorado Gives Day.

Q: How do you combine more than one message?
A: On our postcard to Coloradans, we highlight Colorado Gives Day on the front; on the back we promote it with “Don’t Forget” copy about our Season of Hope campaign. The Colorado Gives Day $1 Million Incentive Fund is highlighted in a shaded box.

Q: Do you also participate in #GivingTuesday?
A: Yes, our national donor base enjoys the opportunity to support Morris Animal Foundation on #GivingTuesday. This year we will able to integrate the message provided by Community First Foundation in the Nonprofit Toolkit for our Colorado donors that says “In Colorado, the way we participate in #GivingTuesday is by scheduling our Colorado Gives Day donations.”

Q: Tell us a little about your Colorado Gives Day results.
A: The amount raised has steadily increased from year to year. We had a bump in 2014 when we put more effort into it. We’re also seeing new donors. That shows us how passionate Coloradans are about Colorado Gives Day! It’s definitely worth putting effort into it.

Q: How do you steward Colorado Gives Day donors?
A: No matter the size of their donation, each one gets a handwritten thank you. Since Colorado Gives Day is around the holidays, we often write a note in our holiday card to thank them. These donors then become part of our active donor base.

Q: Anything new planned for this year?
A: Well, we plan to repeat what has been successful in the past, but like the idea of getting kids involved, too.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dairy Arts Center Uses Colorado Gives Day to Boost Capital Campaign

By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist, Community First Foundation, and featuring Beth Smith, Development Manager, Dairy Arts Center

Q: The Diary Arts Center in Boulder has really transformed in the last few years! Can you give us an overview of your mission and purpose?
A: The Dairy Arts Center is Boulder’s largest multi-disciplinary community arts center. It houses arts organizations such as theatre and dance, and includes art galleries, performance venues, teaching and dance studios, a cafe and an art-house cinema.We are in the final stages of a major renovation and will finish next summer.

Q: How has The Dairy used Colorado Gives Day to support fundraising?
A: I was a new employee in 2013 when we participated in our first Colorado Gives Day, and creating our ColoradoGives profile helped me learn a lot about the Dairy. It’s just a three-person team working on the event—me, the marketing director and ED--so that first year I took advantage of the marketing materials and educational videos in the Nonprofit Toolkit and followed the best practices. In our second year (2014) we based our promotion around a $20,000 match we received.

Q: How did you promote the match?
A: The match was from prominent, well-known arts supporters and helped us pull in another $20,000 in donations. In addition to a direct mail postcard and emails, we used lots of social media. We included a photo of the donors and a personal appeal that I think resonated with people.

Photo of matching grants donors makes the "ask" more personal.
Copy includes message that every gift to The Dairy that day increases
The Dairy's share of the $1 Million Incentive Fund.
Q: What did you do last year?
A: Well, last year was amazing because our building was under construction, and we tied our capital campaign/renovation message to Colorado Gives Day. We created a two-color postcard and re-purposed it in emails.

Q: That’s a beautiful card and I love the message, “Your gift on Colorado Gives Day gets our heart pumping”! The bullet points really convey the magnitude of the Center’s contributions to the community.
A: In our emails we added the “Donate Now” button from the Nonprofit Toolkit and linked it to our donation

Q: We always recommend including the Colorado Gives Day logo since the branding is becoming very recognizable. You did a nice job with the Incentive Fund and scheduled donations messaging too.
A: Thanks. We also did an on-site event on Colorado Gives Day last year in The Boedecker, our art house cinema. Our Executive Director, Bill Obermeier, gave three presentations about what to expect with our newly renovated Dairy Arts Center. We had a laptop to take online donations. One hundred people came and we received campaign gifts that day. We also had Colorado Gives Day signs and posters everywhere.

Q: What have your overall outcomes been like?
A: Our results have steadily grown: 95 donors and $8,000 raised in 2013, 124 and $20,000 raised in 2014 and $25,000 from 149 donors in 2015. Colorado Gives Day has raised the most money for us in a campaign—particularly in one day. But we’re also excited that we’re seeing new donors each year. That’s why I love Colorado Gives Day—seeing all these new names.

Q: Do you steward these new donors?
A: Absolutely. We send "thank you" postcards with personal notes to all donors that day. Our board and executive director make phone calls to people who donate $500 or more. And the very next day we send a social media blast about total giving.

Q: What have you attributed to the growth in giving?
A: Each year we try to do something bigger and better. The donor match in our second year boosted us up from the previous year.

Q: What are your plans for Colorado Gives Day this year?
A: Since the grand opening of the renovated building is in September, we’ll be tying the two events together. I want to involve our volunteers and board members more—maybe create a staff campaign and use them as advocates. I also want to use more social media. In August we plan our goals and strategy.

Q: Any final comments?
A: I love the hype of Colorado Gives Day!

To learn more about The Dairy Arts Center, visit their ColoradoGives Profile and

Friday, July 15, 2016

Getting Ready for Guests

By Bryce Wilkinson, Senior Online Giving Specialist

Summer. A time for running through sprinklers, riding bikes, vacations and the many other activities long days with sunshine afford. At our house, as I’m sure is also the case for many of you, we typically have friends and family stay with us at various points throughout the summer. Before our guests come, we always tidy up a bit, so everything is in order and looks good when they arrive.

This same concept of getting your house ready for guests applies to your profile.

Each year you are required to complete the entire Profile Update Process. The Profile Update Process is a way to make sure you have reviewed the profile, updated information as necessary, checked for accuracy and uploaded current required documents.

It is important to complete the entire Profile Update Process for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it is a requirement for your profile to remain on, to participate on Colorado Gives Day and to continue accepting donations through the site.

Second, with lots of guests arriving at your profile in the coming months, you should be ready to present your organization as best you can. A good first impression, especially for guests you hope will donate to you, can be critical. If you do not care enough to make sure your profile is up-to-date and accurate, why should a donor choose to support you?

To help you complete the entire Profile Update Process, please use the Profile Update Process Document that outlines what needs to be done and how to do it. In general terms, there are four aspects to the Profile Update Process:

  1. Upload Tax Year 2014 Document
  2. Click on the “Mark Profile Updated” button
  3. Review Contacts, Users, and the New Programs question
  4. Upload Current Certificate of Registration and Current Certificate of Good Standing

The deadline to complete the entire Profile Update Process is Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 5:00 PM. (Save this date to your calendar: Outlook or Google).

Don’t forgot to clean-up your profile this summer as you prepare for your guests!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What It Means to Be a Champion

By Samantha Barlow, Communications Coordinator

Susie Davis presents on Eagle County Gives' strategies for helping local nonprofits work with businesses to maximize donations.
In June, seven current and prospective Regional Champions gathered at Community First Foundation’s Meeting Space to build community, share ideas and learn about new programs, website enhancements and ways to help nonprofits better steward donors.

ColoradoGives Regional Champions partner with us to increase online giving in regions beyond metro Denver. They extend the “Give Where You Live” message by providing support, outreach and awareness to the local nonprofits in their communities.

We interviewed Susie Davis with Eagle County Gives to get an insider’s view of our day in June:

Q. How long have you been involved with ColoradoGives as a Regional Champion?

A. Eagle County Gives was an early adopter. Through the collective efforts of several Eagle County nonprofits over the past four years, we formed a new local community foundation called Our Community Foundation. I staff Our Community Foundation and we are the fiscal agent for Eagle County Gives. Bringing more than 42 local nonprofits together is the direct result of Colorado Gives Day. When nonprofits work together, communities thrive.

Q. How did the Learning Day fit into your experience as a Regional Champion?

A. The Learning Day provided me with an array of possibilities for growth as I learned what other Champions across the state are accomplishing. Colorado Gives Day celebrates the spirit of giving throughout the state. It also highlights the great work across the state of the nonprofit sector…THAT is social impact!

Q. Was the Learning Day what you expected? Were there any surprises?

A. Those of us in the nonprofit sector are often on the other side of gatherings like this: planning, executing, and delivering.  How nice to have a day that was thoughtfully planned, giving us time to get together with others from around Colorado, to learn as a group, to consider ways to implement new innovations within our own region and to be well-fed and cared for — great day!

Q. Any final thoughts?

A. The conveners, catalysts, and leverage-makers are often in the background, doing the work and making the magic happen. Community First Foundation is our magic maker!  This is my first year as a part of Eagle County Gives and I look forward to listening and learning from this amazing group and am eager to bring new opportunities for partnership together.

Visit to learn more about each of our Regional Champions.

If you are interested in becoming a Regional Champion, please contact Dana Rinderknecht, Director of Online Giving, at 720.898.5911 or

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Three Tips for How to Answer The "Should We Be on That?" Social Media Question

By Lisa Lujan, Online Giving Coordinator

Should we be on Instagram? I’ve heard that Snapchat is the latest, can you get us on that? Is Google+ still relevant? Why aren’t we on YouTube?

If you’re like me, not only have you heard some of these questions before, you’ve asked them of yourself. The truth is there are a LOT of ways to use social media to engage with your audience today. It seems like I can’t get through a week without hearing about “the latest and greatest” new platform we HAVE to be on. It can definitely feel a little overwhelming at times. So how do you know if your organization should be on a specific social media platform or not?

To help answer this question, I’ve come up with a few tips I’ve learned over the years to help you narrow down which platform(s) might be best for your organization.

The first tip is… Know your audience. It’s an old adage, but, unlike the constantly changing tech environment we live in, it remains consistently true. If your audience doesn’t spend time in a social media space, neither should you. If you don’t know your audience’s social media behaviors well, it can take a great deal of trial and error to learn what platforms they engage with, which leads us to tip two…

Do your research. Not just about the platform itself, but also your audience. Take any information you have about them and turn it into actionable data. Look at where they live, and whether that might give you clues about some of their interests. How do they engage with your organization? If you wanted to get really in-depth you could even create a fictional profile (or profiles) of your ideal audience member(s). What are their interests? Likes? Dislikes? Cultural background? Education? Income? An easier track might be to survey those who are already engaged with you to see what social media they’re using (board members, volunteers, donors, etc.).

So now you know your audience, and you’ve done your research, what’s next? That brings us to the third tip… Be aware of your bandwidth. How much time can you realistically devote to this medium? For example, if you’ve determined that a majority of your audience is on Instagram, you should seriously consider being on Instagram, but only if you’re going to put in the time and actually use it to engage regularly with your audience. The last thing you want to do is leave your audience high and dry. Nothing is more disappointing than wanting to connect with an organization on a social media platform only to learn they haven’t posted anything in six months. It’s like when I want to listen to my favorite podcast only to have them not post for that week – major bummer (but I digress).

Now, at the end of the day, when your boss comes to you and asks, “Should we be on Nextdoor?” at least you have some tools to help you build a recommendation.

This article originally posted by Tech4Good Denver -