December 17, 2021 | NEWS | By Lucaiah Smith-Miodownick
The beginning of December was an important time for philanthropy in Colorado. Dec.7 marked Colorado Gives Day, a yearly event where individuals and businesses are encouraged to donate to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. According to the Colorado Gives Day website, more than $418 million has been donated to nonprofits between 2007-2020.
Started in 2007 by the Community First Foundation (CFF), a Colorado organization designed to connect donors to nonprofits, Colorado Gives Day 2021 was a record breaker. $54,409,297 was raised for 3,063 different nonprofits, with 215,864 total donations received.
“We are blown away and humbled by the generosity shown to Colorado nonprofits on Colorado Gives Day,” said Kelly Dunkin, President and CEO of CFF. Of all the donations, the majority went toward organizations that focus on human services. In order to carry out such an event, CFF partners with FirstBank, who provides paid advertising as well as potential cash prizes for nonprofits that receive at least 30 donations.
Nonprofits are often regarded as pockets of good existing in opposition to a capitalist-dominated society. This perception exists for good reason, as such organizations often work to alleviate social issues on a scale from small to large.
With that being said, no institution is exempt from criticism. “Instead of nonprofits, they should be donating to grassroots movements led by people who are most affected by the problem,” said Colorado College student Mei-ji Fong ’23. Such an assessment is congruent with a larger criticism about nonprofits — that the very people they seek to serve are often barred from being a part of the decision-making process.
Another criticism of nonprofits is where exactly their money is spent. Interestingly enough, Colorado Gives Day overlapped with a Colorado nonprofit receiving media attention for this exact reason, and not in a good way. On Dec. 8, Colorado Public Radio reported that the organization Unite for Colorado was called out for violating laws regarding nonprofits and ordered to pay a $40,000 fine, as well as reveal its donors.
Colorado law states an organization with “a major purpose of supporting or opposing any ballot issue or ballot question” must be registered as a political committee, which Unite for Colorado was not. The group spent millions of dollars during the 2020 election on soliciting signatures and advertising, focusing on three propositions in particular.
Unite for Colorado lobbied against Proposition 113, which decided whether or not the state would give its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the overall popular vote. To the group’s dismay, this initiative passed. Additionally, the organization supported both Proposition 116 and 117, which proposed cutting the state income tax and allowing voters more say in the creation of fees, respectively. Both of these initiatives passed.
The situation raises the broader question of nonprofit purpose and regulation, and whether or not certain groups are swaying too far from true grassroots missions.