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Why We Give: Michele Majeune & Renny Fagan – Helping Coloradans Support Nonprofits with Their Tax Refunds

December 11, 2019

This article was originally published in The Denver Foundation’s Winter 2019/2020 issue of Give Magazine, available now in-print and digitally

Helping Coloradans support nonprofits with their tax refunds.

Growing up in Colorado Springs, Renny Fagan accompanied his father when he delivered local history talks to service groups, and his mother when she taught after-school religion classes. During her childhood in Ohio, Michele Majeune participated with her family in community theater productions and learned from her mother, who was active in civil rights.

They continue to value service to individuals and making a difference for communities. Renny has served as a state legislator, department director, and deputy attorney general. He now leads Colorado Nonprofit Association. Michele’s path included public relations work on behalf of parks and air quality agencies, a public works engineering firm, and now the Developmental Disabilities Resource Center. 

“We have been involved with nonprofits over the years and established a donor-advised fund at The Denver Foundation to make select, larger donations,” Michele says. 

“How often does a person get to support the creation of a game changer?” – Michele Majeune

‘We are looking for opportunities that create system change and long-term impacts,” Renny adds. This year, they plan to use their fund to support the launch of Donate to a Colorado Nonprofit Fund, an innovative new system of charitable giving unique to Colorado. 

Through this new system, taxpayers will be able to directly donate all or part of their 2019 state refund to eligible Colorado nonprofit of their choice. When income tax filing starts in January 2020, taxpayers can choose to direct funds from a list of 5,000 eligible organizations. 

Last year, the state issued $1 billion in refunds to almost 2 million households. Donate to a Colorado Nonprofit Fund will make it easier for Coloradans to direct some of those dollars to nonprofits; it will also provide nonprofits with a new fundraising tool during the spring. 

Now the challenge is to inform nonprofits and taxpayers statewide. Colorado Nonprofit Association is mounting a public action campaign called Re FUND CO that includes research-tested messages that nonprofits can use when appealing to their donors. The campaign includes paid media advertising directed at taxpayers who receive refunds. 

Foundations, nonprofits, and individuals have contributed to Re FUND CO’s startup costs, but more funding is needed for a robust campaign. Renny and Michele have decided to help with their fund. “This is an incredible opportunity for individuals to support a community nonprofit that they know and trust,” said Renny. “Our research shows taxpayers just need to know about it.” 

“How often does a person get to support the creation of a game changer?” Michele said. “We see this as a perfect use of our fund to leverage charitable giving and generate community change. We hope other fundholders will join us.” 

To learn more and raise awareness about ReFUND CO, visit coloradononprofits.org/refundwhatmatters.