Community First Foundation, the Colorado non-profit behind ColoradoGives.org and Colorado Gives Day, is harnessing the power of philanthropy by bringing it to as many people as possible. We sat down with Director of Online Giving, Dana Rinderknecht, and Senior Communications Specialist, Angela Bevacqua, to learn more about ColoradoGives.org and how they’re using Braintree to ensure all donors are able to give.
Tell us about Colorado Gives Day and how it fits into Community First Foundation’s mission.
At Community First, our biggest goal is to inspire philanthropy and build strong communities. Colorado Gives Day is an annual fundraising challenge that allows us to energize people through the power of online giving. Since we launched ColoradoGives.org in 2007, we’ve raised more than $79 million for thousands of charities.
How exactly does Colorado Gives Day work?
We see ourselves as a conduit to help non-profits raise money. Any organization that is a 501(c)3 can sign up to participate. We then market the event and provide the individual organizations the materials they need to get the word out. This year, we were able to help more than 1400 non-profits in 23 categories -- everything from food banks to saving the arts to helping homeless youth.
In our digital world, how are non-profits keeping up with for-profit organizations?
Nonprofits embraced social media early on as a way to have a conversation with donors and share the impact of their work. Social media avenues have provided us a great way to do this and make it possible for people to share with their friends. Social media is a big part of ensuring our mission gets shared as far as possible.
What are the payment challenges you face as a non-profit and how does Braintree help solve them?
We have a lot of challenges - minimizing costs, scheduling recurring donations, and accepting nearly 88,000 entries for $20 million in processing on one day, to name a few. Braintree has helped us solve all of these.
We moved to Braintree two weeks before our first Colorado Gives Day. Making such a big move was scary, but we knew we could trust Braintree. They understood our needs as a non-profit and our ultimate goal of getting the money to charities as soon as possible. The usability, reporting and ability to reconcile information is second to none. With so many transactions on one day, we always worry that something will go down. Braintree knows how important the day is to us and provides incredible customer service to ensure nothing goes wrong.
What’s surprised you the most since launching Colorado Gives Day?
Our first goal was to raise a million dollars in a day. Many people rolled their eyes and told us it would never happen. Well, we actually raised $8.4 million that first day.
The biggest surprise has been people’s generosity. We were able to raise that much money in one day because non-profits have embraced the spirit of the day. This year, we had over 88,000 donations; one donor gave to nearly 90 agencies. People’s willingness to help so many others continues to amaze us.
How do you see Colorado Gives Day evolving over the next few years?
What we’d like to develop next is a regional network of champions; working with similar organizations across Colorado to bring online giving opportunities to even more communities. On the technology side, we’ve seen the importance of becoming device-independent - updating our site so people can give using mobile and tablet as well. We’re always looking for ways to reach donors and really want to highlight these avenues moving forward.