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Tough Times = Fundraising Innovations for CO Non-Profit

September 17, 2010

DENVER - In a time of economic hardship, one Denver area nonprofit organization has found a recipe for success, and it is sharing its secrets with similar groups in the Mountain West. The GLBT Community Center holds the grand opening for its new permanent home Friday evening.

Executive Director Carlos Martinez says the Center launched a major capital campaign a year ago seeking to raise $3.5 million over three years - and they've already reached 70 percent of their goal.

"During tough economic times, that's when I have been able to be most creative in my job. You're having to figure out how to do more with less and how do you make your organization the most attractive to a donor out there."

One creative way the Center raised money was through small monthly donations: $27 a month over three years is the equivalent of a $1,000 contribution, and may be easier on the donor. At the same time, Martinez says they were able to tap into significant contributions from more well-to-do donors and foundations.

Martinez says the Center will list those big - and small - individual donors on its contributor wall.

"It shows how the community has really come around to support this project. We've very cautious about the type of money we get."

Valerie Larabee is the executive director of the Utah Pride Center. She headed to Denver this week to discuss ways to develop a similar capital campaign and share what's worked for her organization. She says the Utah Pride Center developed outreach to non-traditional partners, such as the Mormon Church.

"Those conversations are not unlike conversations you have with other communities of faith and other political affiliations. You're building bridges and, in some cases, building a movement."

A similar group from Montana also visited the Center, and Martinez is sharing ideas with other Denver-area nonprofits. The Center's new home will serve thousands of individuals in the GLBT community from across the state, Martinez adds.

The grand opening is Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. More information is available at www.glbtcolorado.org.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO