Colorado Gives Day is an annual day of giving that was created to increase philanthropic giving in the state. I am super-biased towards this day, and those at the Community First Foundation who created it and continue to rock it. Since 2010 Colorado Gives Day has raised more than $217 million for Colorado nonprofits.
In 2010 I was the Director of Development at Boulder County AIDS Project. I decided I wanted to do something big for Colorado Gives Day, and with my team and the staff we created a 24 hours of giving campaign. For 24 hours I would be out and about in the community asking people to give to BCAP.
There was no precedent for this and Colorado Gives Day was brand new. I had no idea how this would work. I jumped in with all of the excitement that is typical for me when it comes to fundraising and by one minute past midnight of the first Colorado Gives Day I was all set.
It started at a small gay bar in Denver, JR’s. I had used social media to let people know I would be kicking off our efforts there, and was grateful to see friends show up on a work night. Friends like Drew Wilson with Mile High Gay Guy who had also spread the word. I had my laptop and started taking donations. At closing time I headed to a well-known 24-hour diner in Denver , The Denver Diner, and during orders of hash browns and a lot of coffee talked to dozens of people about BCAP and Colorado Gives Day. The after-bar crowd and then super early morning crowd were so kind and receptive to what I was doing. I left with more donations and all of my food and coffee paid for.
I then headed up to Boulder to catch the early coffee crowd in North Boulder. By 8am I was settled in a Pearl Street coffee house, The Cup, which was going to be my base for the day. The owners welcomed me with open arms and totally supported our efforts that day. Meanwhile we had hung a huge (and I mean huge) banner on the BCAP house letting folks know about our goal to raise $30,000 in one day.
The support was mind-blowing. And heartwarming. Everywhere I went I ran into people who loved BCAP, who didn’t know about BCAP, who thought I was crazy for wanting to be up for 24 hours, but mostly who wanted to support in a way that worked for them. That usually meant making a donation or buying me a coffee.
As is the case for exciting moments, the day went by fast. We ended the day with two live bands playing for us at the Boulder Draft House in downtown Boulder and celebrated with staff, clients, and other supporters. I’ll never forget being approached by a BCAP client with a group of their friends and sitting next to me while we entered a donation for a $1,000. That was a huge donation for us.
By midnight I was wiped out, and ecstatic that in 24 hours our small HIV/AIDS org had raised $23,000! It took a community, a crazy idea, and people will to work towards a crazy idea even if they thought there was no way it would work. I’ll forever be grateful for everyone who supported us that day. And just in case you were wondering, I stopped counting at 15 cups of coffee!
I continue to be grateful for all of those who create fun events around Colorado Gives Day. My ideas continued as I moved on, and another 24 – hour event was created while I was Director of Development and Public Relations at Urban Peak in Denver, when we “Walked the Block” for 24 hours to signify all of the walking youth experiencing homelessness do. At midnight of the start of Colorado Gives Day my CEO met me at St. John’s Cathedral where we were holding the walk and we started the 24 hours! By the end of that day, five years ago, hundreds had joined us to walk and had donated. A group of elementary kids brought us pizza for lunch and Denver’s mayor swung by with some staff members to walk the block a few times.
Happy Colorado Gives Day! This year it’s December 10th. You can donate to hundreds of Colorado organizations like Boulder County AIDS Project and Urban Peak here: https://www.coloradogives.org/COGIVESDAY
Thank you for reading!
Boulder County AIDS Project: https://www.bcap.org/
Urban Peak: https://www.urbanpeak.org/
Boulder Daily Camera article about BCAP and first CO Gives Day: https://www.dailycamera.com/2010/12/03/first-ever-colorado-gives-day-24-hours-to-make-a-difference/