Pick a color for the 2013 COTS Walk T-shirts!

The voting period for picking out the color of our 2013 COTS Walk T-shirts runs Monday, January 21st through Sunday, January 27th.  Please get your votes in between these dates to make sure your vote counts!

This year’s COTS Walk is on May 5th, 2013.  Every year up to 1,500 walkers of all ages, from businesses, schools, social and religious organizations, and neighborhoods come together from all over the region to participate in the annual COTS Walk.  Don’t miss out and register early for the walk!


Coolest Lunch Raises Over $3000

30th Anniversary Emerald Event Sponsor Citizens Bank enjoyed the Coolest Lunch at the Three Tomatoes Trattoria.

30th Anniversary Emerald Event Sponsor Citizens Bank enjoyed the Coolest Lunch at the Three Tomatoes Trattoria.

This year’s Coolest Lunch was a blast! We had 130 online reservations plus walk-ins and raised over $3,000!  Groups of students, coworkers, and friends ventured into the nippy outdoors and did their part to raise awareness for those who face exposure to the elements all day long.

Cheer and good spirits were high among participants.  The food was donated by the restaurants allowing 100% of proceeds to go straight towards helping fund homeless services and programs during the winter months.  Servers at the Farmhouse even donated their tips to the cause!

Leunig's Coolest LunchWe are so grateful to all the supporters of the Coolest Lunch, from the six restaurants participating—Leunig’s BistroThe Farmhouse Tap & GrillHalvorson’s Upstreet CafeThree Tomatoes TrattoriaThe Scuffer, and Boloco—to 30th Anniversary Emerald Event Sponsor Citizens Bank.

Special thanks also goes to Vermont Moving & Storage,who helped move the tables outside for this event, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and of course, to all the diners who came out to raise money and awareness about homelessness in our community.

At COTS, we believe in innovative solutions to end homelessness through prevention and rapid rehousing, and events like this help us to share our mission with the community.

Make sure to check out the fun “movie” style video—those who attended the event hold staring roles! And see if you can spot your friends in the 2012 Coolest Lunch Photo Album.

Everyone loves pie, but how big is the piece for Vermont nonprofits?

A recent report from the Office of the Attorney General, “Where Have all the Dollars Gone (2012)?” states that third party fundraisers are getting a much larger piece of the pie than the nonprofits those dollars are being raised for.

To be precise, the report says “…over the past two years Vermonters donated $6,052,835 to charities through paid fundraisers. Of this donation total, paid fundraisers retained $4,156,112, while the charities that hired them collected $1,896,723. This means that an average of 68.66% of Vermonters’ donations were kept by the paid fundraiser. The charities, on the other hand, ultimately received less than a third (31.34%).”

This is a pretty significant disparity, but according to Marth Maksym, the Executive Director of the United Way of Chittenden County, “the key phrase in this report is the phrase ‘paid fundraisers.’ UWCC and our Member Agencies do not use third party or paid fundraisers.  Instead, our UWCC fundraising and theirs is done by volunteers. We are very proud of our success, and we attribute it to our exceptional volunteers.”

Maksym went on to quote Stuart Comstock-Gay, president of the Vermont Community Foundation, from a recent interview with Vermont Digger: “The vast majority of nonprofits are using money very well, very efficiently.  Very few Vermont charities use paid fundraisers.  Most can’t afford them, more than anything else.”

COTS’ supporters can easily see how donations are used (see pie chart below).  COTS does not use third-party fundraisers.  For FY2012, COTS had $3,306,502 in revenue; again, none was raised through use of third-party fundraisers.

In this pie chart, supporters can easily trace where all raised funds go in order to allow us to provide services to our community. Of the $3,306,502 of revenue COTS took in Fiscal Year 2012, none was diverted towards third party fundraisers.

These are pre-audited numbers. COTS’ FY12 deficit resulted from a combination of carrying costs for overflows shelters together with a more competitive fundraising environment. Development results near year-end were stronger, and overall FY12 expenses were at budgeted levels. Going forward, COTS will benefit from lower expenses related to closure of overflow shelters and reduced rent expenses.

Educating yourself on how the nonprofits you support raise revenue and manage expenses is always a good idea, and can help make you more confident about where your gifts are going during the holiday season.

Maksym reminds supporters, “This is the Giving Season and the time when nonprofits depend on the generosity of the community to continue the work that no one else in Vermont is doing. “

You Can Help COTS Reach its Holiday Fundraising Goal

2012 Phonathon Coincides with #GivingTuesday

This is a fun and engaging annual event in which volunteers call COTS supporters to thank them for their past donations and ask them to consider a gift again this holiday season.  And it also happens to coincide perfectly with #GivingTuesday.

Everyone loves a great deal, which is why shopping extravaganzas like Black Friday and  Cyber Monday generate so much revenue, so why not help boost the work of nonprofits like COTS with #GivingTuesday.

And our Annual Phonathon is the perfect outlet! Give your time as a volunteer and/or hear out callers when they give you a ring over the next few days.  Or make a secure online donation right now. Let’s promote a giving spirit this winter season!

The first two nights of our 2012 Phonathon have already passed, but there’s still time to volunteer for caller and mail room shifts on Nov. 28-29th and Dec. 3-4th. 5:30-9pm for all shifts! An additional daytime shift is available Monday, Dec. 3 from 10-2pm.

We have great raffle prizes, dinner, and an array of snacks to fuel volunteer excitement.  So grab some friends, family, or even co-workers and join the fun social atmosphere!

For an insider look, watch our volunteers on the 1st night of the COTS Phonathon.

Last year, we had 350 volunteers raise more than $190,000 for critical shelter and support services.  We are counting on the community’s support in order to reach that same goal this year.

We still have space on our phones and in the mail room for this year’s event!

If you’d like to join in on the fun, please contact Nicole at nicolem@cotsonline.org.