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Tourism Marketing Matching Grant

Grant Summary

The Tourism Marketing Matching Grant provides funding to support tourism marketing and promotional campaigns. 

The maximum grant amount is $40,000 while the required match is 2:1. For every $1 the qualifying grantee allocates to the proposed project, the Colorado Tourism Office will provide $2 in matching funds. For example, if your total project budget is $60,000, you can request a $40,000 grant and you will need to provide the remaining $20,000 as a cash match.

Grant goals are to:

  • build a robust tourism economy and advance the state’s competitive position through promotion and support for industry partners across the state
  • strengthen the tourism industry and our state through support for responsible travel and destination stewardship campaigns 
  • maximize the economic return on public and private investments in Colorado by leveraging funds to optimize marketing impact 

The application period is now closed.

Overview

Type: Grant

For: Nonprofit Colorado destination organizations, nonprofit tourism leadership organizations, nonprofit tourism industry associations, and government entities

Amount: Up to $40,000 per application

Application period: July to September

OEDIT division: Colorado Tourism Office

Eligible Colorado applicants include:

  • nonprofit Colorado destination organizations
    • recipients of jurisdictional lodging taxes, such as: 
      • destination marketing organizations 
      • lodging tax boards, committees, or panels 
  • other nonprofit tourism leadership organizations that are responsible for promoting tourism on behalf of a destination, such as: 
    • chambers of commerce or chamber resort associations 
  • Colorado tourism industry associations 
    • registered nonprofit trade organizations that represent a collection of tourism businesses within one or more tourism-related business sectors
  • government entities in Colorado (state entities, local governments, and federally recognized tribes) engaged in tourism promotion

Ineligible applicants include:

  • for-profit organizations
  • individual attractions, museums, or businesses
  • nonprofit trade organizations that do not represent tourism-related business sectors or that provide services only to individuals, though critically important, are not the intended recipients of these programs

Other considerations include:

  • Only one application can be submitted for an individual destination
    • Multiple organizations within a single destination should collaborate on a single grant application
  • Only one application can be submitted per applicant unless prior approval is provided. Lead applicants can be a partner in a separate application. 
  • Recipients of the Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant are ineligible to apply for a FY24 Tourism Marketing Matching Grant unless prior approval is provided.
  • Applicants that failed to fulfill Colorado Tourism Office grant award requirements within the past twelve (12) months may be deemed ineligible.

Eligible projects must be new marketing initiatives. Grants will not be awarded to fund existing marketing efforts unless the funds are for new initiatives or outcomes or you are expanding the program into new markets or media. 

Eligible activities:

  • creative executions specific to the marketing and promotional campaign:
    • creative advertising production (print, digital, out-of-home, video, social, and radio) 
    • content development (written, video, or audio)
    • photography
    • videography and post-production video editing
    • audio development (radio, etc.)
    • marketing collateral (print and digital brochures, visitor guides, posters, and maps)
    • fulfillment costs
    • promotional items (Promotional items must support the grant program goals and contain clear branding such as a call to action (CTA) or logo that features the grant recipient’s destination or organization.)
  • marketing executions specific to the marketing and promotional campaign:
    • media placement (print, digital, out-of-home, television, social, and radio)
    • social media initiatives
    • public relations initiatives
    • search engine marketing (SEM) initiatives (SEO/paid search)
    • Crowdriff Stories
    • email newsletter development and distribution
  • trade shows
    • registration and booth rental fees
    • airfare/lodging expenses (up to 10% of the project budget)
  • website development, refresh, or restructure
  • other approved projects

Ineligible use of funds:

  • funding can not be used as a match for larger projects
  • general administrative costs such as personnel costs or office supplies
  • grant writing or grant management costs
  • items for resale and gift cards
  • travel expenses, except for trade show attendance, as specified above
  • food or alcoholic beverages
  • tourism-related projects that develop, enhance, or manage visitor experience in Colorado (see Tourism Management Grant)

The applicant can financially match the project cost at a higher amount if the cost exceeds grant dollar limitations.

The application period is now closed.

Apply through the OEDIT online portal by 4pm on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

The application process is as follows:

  1. Verify your eligibility by reading through the guidelines carefully.
  2. Prepare your application materials by filling out this Tourism Marketing Matching Grant Application Materials (Coming Soon). This document includes all application questions. 
  3. Log in to the OEDIT online portal and submit your complete application in the online portal.
  4. Applications will be reviewed.
  5. Status notification seven weeks after the application closes.

Supporting documents

You will need to provide:

  • completed Tourism Marketing Matching Grant Financial Worksheet (XLS)
  • a detailed timeline that includes all milestones and deliverables 
  • letter(s) of commitment showing evidence of required cash match – matching dollars may not come from the State’s General Fund, Federal funds, Colorado Tourism Office funds or other grant funds. Letter(s) of commitment must be on official letterhead and state the amount of cash committed by the organization
  • project support letters – all grant applications need to include at least two letters of support from community partners or tourism industry partners in the community

Additionally, nonprofit entities must provide:

Applications are first vetted through an internal compliance review to ensure eligibility and that all required materials have been submitted. Incomplete or ineligible applications may be rejected.

The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) will appoint a committee to review eligible applications. Grants willbe awarded based on application scores, availability of grant funding, and CTO final approval.

Reviewers will prioritize applications that:

  • include a proposed marketing and promotional campaign that states clear objectives and includes attainable deliverables
  • include a campaign or brand book demonstrating positioning, brand voice, and/or visual identity
  • Demonstrate a campaign with measurable metrics and KPIs
  • contribute to one or more of the below CTO Marketing Goals that support the CTO’s Strategic Pillars: 
    • Strengthen Colorado’s statewide economic growth and advance the state’s competitive position
    • Promote and educate on responsible travel and destination stewardship
    • Strive to ensure all feel represented and welcome in Colorado
  • demonstrate industry collaboration with two or more destinations 

Tourism Marketing Matching Grant

The committee will score applications on these criteria:

  • strength of the proposed project overview
  • strength of the marketing plan 
  • expected impact 
  • capacity to implement

Once an application is approved, OEDIT must execute a formal grant agreement with the awarded applicant prior to obligating or spending any grant funds. Grant funds will be awarded after the formal grant agreement start date. Expenses incurred before a formal grant agreement is executed are not allowable expenses.

The Colorado Tourism Office’s goal is to provide grant funds upfront. Funds are subject to approval by the State Controller’s Office yearly, so we may award funds on a reimbursement basis.

Grantees must:

  • complete the marketing campaign within the approved timeline and grant agreement end date
  • keep the budget updated 
  • submit reports as outlined in the grant agreement including a final report describing what was accomplished with the grant funds, a final budget, and documents for expenses incurred including invoices, expense receipts, and proof of payment

Project requirements:

  • CTO grant funds cannot be used as a match for existing or future grant opportunities including CTO co-op marketing opportunities
  • prior to production, publication, placement, and/or distribution, creative assets must be approved by the CTO 
  • all materials that are funded in part by Colorado Tourism Office need to include the official Colorado Tourism Office logo unless otherwise directed by the CTO
  • grantees must submit a formal Proposal Change Form if there is a change to the original proposal
  • unused grant funds or grant funds not used as approved shall be returned to the Colorado Tourism Office pursuant to the grant agreement

The following table outlines the timeline for the grants

July 11, 2023 Application opens
September 12, 2023  Application closes at 4:00 pm
November 1, 2023  Recipient notification
January 1, 2024, to December 31, 2024  Grant project execution period
February 13, 2025  Final report and expense documentation due

Grant resources:

Other resources:

  • Brand Book: This guide is your compass to navigating the intricacies and nuances of the majestic Colorado brand, ensuring we always Come to Life in a unified, consistent manner. 
  • CTO Marketing Portal (public use of logo requires CTO approval): The Marketing Portal is a valuable hub where DMOs can access the CTO's marketing assets (including logos and toolkits), subscribe to newsletters, a calendar of marketing dates, and more.
    • Please note: Each DMO should only have 1 login because this is tied to your Data Engine account where you manage your listing.  Your username and password for the Marketing Portal are the same as your username and password for the Data Engine. If you forgot your username or password, visit the Marketing Portal, select “Log In to Enter Portal”, and select “Forgot your login/password?”.

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