Following this year’s wildly successful Giving Tuesday, when on Dec. 1, nearly 35 million Americans opened their wallets to donate $2.47 billion to nonprofits around the nation, Colorado Gives Day again is being held one week later.

Local organizations are hopeful donors will be just as generous with charitable efforts close to home. The annual online fundraising drive begins Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. and runs for 24 hours statewide. The website is ColoradoGives.org.

“It’s an effort to elevate and raise the ongoing need and value of nonprofits in our community,” said Gary Butterworth, chief executive officer of Pikes Peak Community Foundation, which helps more than 200 funders distribute their charitable dollars. “It has explicitly been crafted to educate and promote online giving, and make giving easier and accessible.”

The 2019 Colorado Gives Day was the largest in its 10-year history, with $39.6 million donated to 2,569 Colorado nonprofits during the drive.

Like retail businesses that bring in the majority of their revenue in December, nonprofits historically collect a large chunk of donations six to eight weeks before the year ends.

During the pandemic of 2020, Americans have been particularly benevolent.

Last week’s national Giving Tuesday event reflected a 25% increase in contributions over 2019, organizers reported.

Those who have the means to give during the continued public health crisis are responding to the call, Butterworth said.

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El Paso County is home to about 2,000 nonprofit organizations — a substantial number for the size of the community, he said.

The region’s roots stressing the importance of giving back, coupled with the influence of prominent faith-based organizations and nongovernmental sports organizations headquartered in Colorado Springs, have led the community to realize how essential nonprofit work is and embrace a spirit of giving, Butterworth speculated.

For example, an emergency COVID-19 relief fund specifically benefiting local organizations raised $1.5 million after the pandemic started spreading in the spring, he said. The money primarily was distributed to agencies that provide basic human needs, such as assistance with food, rent, utilities, housing and other services.

While state and federal governments also have released relief money,“ there’s still an abundance of need,” not just for social-service organizations but also nonprofits across the board, Butterworth said.

“Colorado Gives Day heightens the awareness of not just those serving the vulnerable but also that so much of the work in the community is done by nonprofits, and of the need to support those efforts and make sure they are sustained,” he said.

More than 2,900 nonprofits statewide are participating in this year’s Colorado Gives Day. The minimum donation is $5.

Organizations range from small to large and operate a variety of programs for children and adults. 

One participant, Silver Key Senior Services, has seen “unprecedented increase in demand for services,” as a result of the pandemic and the repercussions of isolation, a lack of access to food and transportation, and housing issues, officials said. 

Catholic Charities of Central Colorado raised $92,000 last year on Colorado Gives Day, which was spread across programs to feed the needy and provide services to homeless and low-income residents. This year, an anonymous donor will match dollar-for-dollar on the first $40,000 raised, spokeswoman Rochelle Schlortt said. The organization hopes to raise a total of $100,000 by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

“This year we are hearing from a lot of local folks who feel their good fortune in not being directly economically impacted by the pandemic and are compelled to help those who are have been impacted,” she said.

Safe Place for Pets, a nonprofit that finds homes for pets displaced when terminally ill owners can no longer care for them, is hoping to top last year’s $6,500 raised during the effort.

A hospice nurse founded the organization 24 years ago with a small but impactful mission. Safe Place completed 39 pet adoptions in 2018 and about 60 last year.

“We expect we will continue to grow,” Kennedy Watson, executive director, told The Gazette earlier this year. “In 2019, we had a 100% lifesaving rate, meaning every pet that entered our program had a live outcome.”

Tuesday's donations to Pikes Peak United Way, which supports 24 area agencies and operates several in-house programs, including the 2-1-1 referral hotline, will host a coat drive for students. In addition to donating through Colorado Gives Day online, new or gently used coats can be dropped off at a drive-through site that will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Pikes Peak United Way, 518 N. Nevada Ave.

Pikes Peak United Way took over the drive after the Assistance League had trouble getting enough funding for its annual Operation School Bell program, which provides free winter clothing and coats to needy students, said Elizabeth Quevedo, a Pikes Peak United Way program director. An estimated 2,000 area children need winter coats, she said. 

"A lot of people want to contribute to the community but just don't know how or where to go or who to give to," Quevedo said. "Anytime an initiative like this one can highlight the need in the community and the organizations who are doing the work, it's helpful."

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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