Marshall Fires update: the power of aggregators for good

Years ago, Pledge 1% Colorado was launched in an effort to make every company a force for good in their community, even those just starting out or not in a position to donate with their dollars (yet!). In 2008 when Rally Software made the first Pledge, they partnered with the Community Foundation Boulder County, now Pledge’s parent organization, to help steward their 1% of equity in the event of an exit. 

Rally, and so many others including local Venture Capital Firm, Foundry Group, have trusted the Community Foundation to help guide their dollars during times of crisis like we find ourselves in today, one month after the devastating wildfires that struck Louisville and Superior. Since I sent out the call for support on December 31st, I thought I’d share an update with you all about what’s happened since.

You can count on anyone working in the world of philanthropy to be on call at the end of each year, because no matter what, someone always waits until the last possible minute to lock in a gift. One donor has made a running joke of it by inviting the Foundation’s VP of Philanthropy over to collect their annual donation over a celebratory glass of champagne at 4pm on the 31st. 

This year, a very different scene played out as the snow gently blanketed our state: the Community Foundation Boulder County’s website crashed as an influx of thousands of donations started pouring in by the hour after they had established the Boulder County Wildfire Fund in the wake of the Marshall Fires. As with any other natural disaster, it takes a village to respond, and our friends at Community First Foundation, who run Colorado Gives Day, stepped in to help redirect the thousands of donors seeking to support.

Overnight, an anxious group of 35,000 Marshall Fire evacuees sought shelter and waited to hear the reports from the brave first responders who entered their neighborhoods as the light faded. All told, more than 1,200 households vanished, leaving thousands wondering what would come next, and north of $500M in damages to sort through.

Just 72 hours after the fires had started, as the donations climbed towards $10M, the Community Foundation’s board approved a $5.5M allocation for direct support checks to all those whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the fires, while countless organizations opened their doors to donations of food, clothing, children’s goods, pet food and more. This community rallied around it’s neighbors, just like it had in 2013 during the floods and after last year’s King Soopers tragedy – we saw the power of giving in its truest forms.

Now with $27M+ in the door from more than 64,000 donors from across the world, the most immediate needs have been taken care of and our focus shifts to the long road ahead. Rebuilding will take years for most, and for some who were under- or uninsured, these funds will lend a hand in helping them fill the gap. The Community Foundation sits in the middle of a range of local direct support organizations and government working towards long term recovery as a convener and listener, ensuring that no stone is left unturned as we collectively assess what needs to be done in the months and years to come.

I’ve been humbled to be in a position to support this small, but mighty, team as we’ve fielded donations of all shapes and sizes; students sending in their loose change to major 7-figure gifts from some well known companies. 

So consider this an invitation: if you aren’t in a position to give financially at the moment, know that Pledge has supported companies like yours in setting aside a portion of their future success, in equity, profit, or time, for the greater good of their communities. The journey towards recovery is just beginning for those 1,200 households, but you and your team can help play a big part in making sure the community is setup for the long haul.

E-mail me at Matt@Pledge1Colorado.org today, we’re here to make it simple for any company to give back to their community.

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