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The State of Giving in Colorado

Graphic of a vector-shaped landscape of Colorado with the text: ColoradoGives.org 2019 Impact Since 2007, ColoradoGives.org has encouraged year-round giving by providing comprehensive, objective and up-to-date information about Colorado nonprofits and an easy way to support them online. also show highlights of 2019 with $51.2 million dollars donated.
Since 2007, ColoradoGives.org has encouraged year-round giving by providing comprehensive, objective and up-to-date information about Colorado nonprofits and an easy way to support them online.

by Dana Rinderknecht, Director of Online Giving

Once the ticker has stopped spinning after another landmark Colorado Gives Day, we love to share the phenomenal impact that Colorado’s nonprofits and donors have worked together to create — an impact which continues to grow, year over year.

Colorado Landscape

It is clear from our data that the state of giving in Colorado is growing stronger each year.

In 2019, total charitable contributions in the state of Colorado totaled $3.4 billion[1]. However, Colorado still has room to grow; our ranking in terms of philanthropic giving is 22 out of 50 states. We look forward to helping Colorado climb that ladder.

Colorado’s nonprofit ecosystem, at a glance[2]:

  • 23,147 registered nonprofits
  • 330,000 jobs created, directly and indirectly
  • 3% of overall Colorado state GDP
  • $40 billion in economic impact generated by nonprofits

Digital giving is the fastest growing area of within philanthropy, currently making up 7-10% of total fundraising. Medium-sized organizations have been experiencing the most growth in the digital giving space[3]. ColoradoGives.org is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the trend toward online giving, and we at Community First Foundation are keeping our fingers on the pulse of this and other giving trends.

Online Giving 2019

Since its inception in 2007, ColoradoGives.org has raised $348 million from 2 million donations and 381,634 donors. 2,795 nonprofits have participated, receiving donations from all 50 states.

Did you know that Colorado Gives Day is the second largest day of giving in the United States, behind only North Texas? As you will see in our 2019 Impact Report, Colorado Gives Day raised nearly $40 million from 60,000 donors last year.

Online Giving 2020

The landscape for charitable giving is constantly evolving. Here are a few of the potential changes and trends that we have our eyes on in 2020.

Evolution in charitable giving through IRAs. According to research, 42.6 million U.S. households have IRAs[4]. Did you know that Community First Foundation started a new IRA program in 2018, allowing donors to support multiple nonprofits with a single distribution through ColoradoGives.org? Our platform data shows that the average IRA donor is supporting six nonprofits with their distribution, so ColoradoGives.org — which has already raised roughly $530k through this program — is showing a lot of promise for this emerging donor base. We are closely monitoring the way that charitable giving through retirement planning continues to change; for example, we discuss the IRA-related implications of the newly-enacted Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (“SECURE”) Act with two members of our Professional Advisors Council in this blog post.

Considering an election year. As 2020 is an election year, nonprofits may feel concerned that donors will give their discretionary funds to their favorite candidate instead of their favorite causes. Though a study by Blackbaud[5] suggests that this is not the case — that giving actually increases slightly around a national election, particularly in regards to religious and educational organizations — we still recommend that nonprofits adjust their campaign timing to accommodate very full mailboxes until election day. Also, we may all be a little burned out from the trash talk that can happen during an election cycle, so donors may be ready for some feel-good messaging and stories.

“One of the things I discovered in my research was that donors who contribute to political campaigns are also very generous philanthropically, at every income level. These are people, I believe, who believe in their ability to influence the world around them, either through elected officials or through non-profits.”

—Chuck Longfield, chief scientist, Blackbaud[6]

Opening the door for smaller nonprofits to join us. We are excited to relax eligibility requirements in 2020 so that small, but stable, nonprofits can use ColoradoGives.org as an online giving tool and participate in Colorado Gives Day.

Under the new guidelines, nonprofits can either meet the financial requirements (link to) or be able to show that they have been operating for at least five years. This will allow smaller organizations with proven track records to leverage the platform and participate in the fun of Colorado Gives Day. We’re very excited about what this also means for those donors who are loyal to those causes. They will now be able to support their favorite nonprofit on the big day.

Onward and Upward

The dedicated staff at Community First Foundation is working hard this year (as every year!) to make sure Colorado’s nonprofits have the tools they need to increase online donations all year-round.

Though ColoradoGives.org continues to thrive, we understand there is never time to rest. It is time to look toward 2020 and understand how we can engage a greater number of nonprofits, help those nonprofits tell their stories in a way that makes a lasting impact, continue to keep ahead of the movements and trends of philanthropic giving, and inspire a greater number of Colorado’s citizens to support the causes that matter to them and “give where they live.”

Stay tuned for an updated online giving toolkit and additional educational opportunities to maximize your efforts!

Dana Rinderknecht, is the Director of Online Giving. You can reach her at drinderknecht@communityfirstfoundation.org


[1] “How America Gives Data: Leaders and Laggards, Giving Opportunities, and More,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Oct 2017

[2] “Nonprofit Economic Impact Study,” Colorado Nonprofit Association

[3] Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018, Giving USA Foundation, 2019

[4] Investment Company Institute annual mutual fund shareholder tracking survey and U.S. Census Bureau, 2018

[5] Giving in an Election Year: How Political Giving Impacts Nonprofit Support, Blackbaud, Inc., Mar 2016

[6] “Study: Charities Win During National Elections,” The NonProfit Times, Mar 2016

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