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The Early Bird Gets the Worm — Jumpstart Your Colorado Gives Day Efforts

Becki Taylor, Director of Development for Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado (AATPC), may be new to the organization, but AATPC is not new to Colorado Gives Day (CGD). Before they had a full-time development person, AATPC was drawn to CGD as a way to have “a full fundraising effort for organizations in a time crunch or who don’t have the resources to push a full campaign — and Colorado Gives Day has been the biggest fundraiser each year for our organization.”

AA llama appears to be posing with another person closer to the camera on the right side of the frame.ATPC is a nonprofit mental health center offering animal-assisted psychotherapy, which is traditional counseling with animals integrated into the process. When their clients interact with an animal during a counseling session, the team at AATPC finds it opens more doors for the client to talk and process. AATPC has a variety of animals onsite, from guinea pigs to horses, all of which are rescue or re-homed animals, with each species lending to a new experience for the client.

As with most small nonprofits, the COVID-19 crisis has taken a toll this year. AATPC closed its doors for almost four months, and as an onsite counseling organization, that posed challenges for them and their clients. Their educational programs are some of their most impactful programs, but they’ve been unable to facilitate them this year with the pandemic. They’ve cancelled events and even lost some clients. They began seeing patients via Telehealth, however they discovered that’s not effective for all their clients.

Thankfully, they reopened in August, but had to limit the amount of people they could see. They currently have a waitlist as they slowly rebuild their operations and client lists. However, Ms. Taylor mentioned how “grateful they are for Community First Foundation and other foundations for providing critical funding to get us through those initial months of closure,” and how they are looking forward to Colorado Gives Day to give them a much needed push through the end of this year and into the next.

To ensure a successful Gives Day, AATPC is using a very “measured approach” to CGD this year, using Community First Foundation’s online resources for both early brainstorming sessions and timeline creation. “The nonprofit toolkit is super helpful, especially the checklists which helped me with our week-by-week planning. This is the earliest and hardest we’ve gone with promotions. The earlier I can get Colorado Gives Day associated with AATPC the better. We don’t want to overwhelm people, but we want to plant seeds because the sooner they see it, the more they remember it,” Taylor said.

Taylor has some great insights to share with other nonprofits looking to get an early start on their CGD initiatives:

  • There’s a lot of information on the Community First Foundation website and, even though it takes time to go through, don’t just scratch the surface. It’s really worthwhile to go through it all.
  • Having your team on board makes such a difference. Everyone in our organization is on board this year and that makes a huge difference. When people are on board, they have an innate initiative to help promote Colorado Gives Day.
  • We are taking the time to listen to what happened last year — what worked versus what didn’t work — and we’re making appropriate adjustments. For us, that means focusing on one organizational page instead of individual team member pages.

During the time they have participated in CGD, the team at AATPC has been surprised with how much Community First Foundation connects with them and gets involved. “If I have a question, I shoot it over to Jaime (Aguilar, Digital Communications Specialist) and he would get right back to me. The amount of effort Community First is willing to put into supporting participating nonprofits is really encouraging.”

Last year AATPC raised roughly $10,000, not including a $5000 match from an anonymous donor, and this year they hope to raise $12,000 from individuals plus any matches they may receive. They started promoting CGD early through their social media posts, sharing Storyvine videos weekly, and in November they began a scheduled email campaign. They do not use mailers, as their constituents are used to hearing from them on digital platforms, so they are using all digital marketing this year.

Even during a challenging year where organizations need as much help as they can get, they still plan to focus their fundraising efforts on Colorado Gives Day. “We don’t do anything with Giving Tuesday. For us, Colorado Gives Day is the be all, end all. Personally, I am drawn to a more local fundraising effort because I think it helps the smaller organizations more. Giving Tuesday tends to be more focused on big, national organizations, and sometimes the smaller organizations get lost in the national efforts, so I appreciate that Colorado Gives Day is more locally focused and more neighbor helping neighbor,” Taylor said.

Taylor continued, “We are so grateful for the opportunity to participate in Colorado Gives Day and thankful it’s been so successful for us in the past. We hope that we will continue to grow as the years go by, and we expect to do that thanks to Colorado Gives Day.”

Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado

To build your own successful campaign this year, we invite you to download our Nonprofit Toolkit.

There’s also an Ambassador Toolkit you can share with your ambassadors so they can help you spread the word.

You can also reach out to our team anytime at communications@communityfirstfoundation.org with specific questions or to share your creative ideas.

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