Attention local nonprofits and those who love them!

In partnership with El Pomar Foundation, Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, Bee Vradenburg Foundation, Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation, Pikes Peak Community Foundation, Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Bristol Brewing Co., Cliff House, Old Town Bike Shop, Poor Richard's, Big Fish Marketing, Luce Research, Wisdom Works, CoPilot Creative, KRCC-FM, KILO-FM and KXRP-FM, the Independent is pleased to announce an exciting new philanthropic initiative.

We are stealing the concept with encouragement from our sister newsweekly in Portland, Ore., Willamette Week. Actually, we are not stealing the idea as much as borrowing it back.

Some background: For the past seven years, the Independent has published an annual Giving Issue, in which nonprofits buy advertising at deep discounts. It has been very successful, with as many as 80 local nonprofits participating. Six years ago, we shared the concept with Willamette Week publisher Richard Meeker, and his paper pretty much copied our format for their first year.

But then Willamette Week started to innovate and grow. During 2008, their print and online Give!Guide helped Portland-area nonprofits raise more than $800,000 from their community. Plus, the accompanying multimedia campaign provided these nonprofits with a huge amount of invaluable publicity as well as hundreds of new volunteers and board members.

Willamette Week's improvements to the project have included:

• only selecting innovative nonprofits whose missions would really resonate with their readers.

• adding a simple and elegant online giving component that makes it easy to donate to one or multiple nonprofits.

• giving those who donated wonderful incentives contributed by local businesses. Folks who gave as little as $25 received coupons good for free ice cream, cookies, beer, wine, coffee drinks, haircuts, bowling, etc.

• providing extra big incentives for those making donations of at least $1,000 Willamette Week had 150 last year! including having the publisher or editor home-deliver a sumptuous breakfast basket, plus weekend use of a Prius, MINI Cooper or BMW, and other way fun goodies.

• encouraging challenge grants from local foundations and businesses, to leverage donations made by individuals.

• launching friendly competitions among nonprofits. For instance, the nonprofit that garnered the most donations from donors 35 years of age and younger got a cash bonus.

The Independent's 2009 Give! campaign will build on Willamette Week's successful formula. So far, we are pleased to report that:

El Pomar Foundation has awarded us a $10,000 challenge grant and has agreed to host our awards ceremony.

Pikes Peak Community Foundation will administer our online giving component.

KRCC-FM, KILO-FM and KRXP-FM will join the Independent and in providing significant promotional support. We anticipate having several other media partners on board.

a diverse panel of nonprofit-knowledgeable community stewards will help the Independent evaluate and select interested nonprofits.

Our multimedia campaign will launch this fall. What we need now is to make sure that worthy Pikes Peak-area nonprofits know about this unique fundraising and outreach opportunity.

Applications are due by 4 p.m., Thursday, May 7. For an application form, click the Give! button at To obtain a better sense of how our initiative will work, check out the 2008 Willamette Week Give!Guide site, And to request any other Give! information, please e-mail us at

John Weiss & Carrie Simison-Bitz