Tourism Marketing Matching Grant

The Tourism Marketing Matching Grant helps nonprofits, destination marketing organizations, municipalities, and counties market themselves to increase traveler spending in rural Colorado.

We look for proposals that:

  • support further collaboration and promote experiences in a Colorado travel region
  • provide an integrated destination experience
  • inspire destination stories founded upon a common theme
  • support creative consistency across communications and experiences

The Colorado Tourism Office offers two grant options.

Small Tourism Marketing Matching Grant: The maximum grant is $10,000. Your request needs to have a funding ratio of 1-to-4 non-grant funding to grant funding. For example, if you request a grant of $10,000, you need to have at least $2,500 in other funding.

Marketing Tourism Matching Grant: The maximum grant is $25,000. Your request needs to have a funding ratio of 1-to-1 non-grant funding to grant funding. For example, if you request a grant of $25,000, you need to have at least $25,000 in other funding.

 Due to COVID-19, we will not be offering the small marketing matching grants for June 30, 2020 to July 31, 2020. The larger grants will still be available.

Overview

Type: Grant

For: Tourism nonprofits, destination marketing organizations, municipalities, and counties

Amount: Up to $10,000 and up to $25,000

Application deadline: Every spring to summer

OEDIT division: Colorado Tourism Office

Each submitting lead applicant is limited to one Marketing Matching Grant project per state fiscal year (July to June). Lead applicants can be a partner in a separate grant application. Applicants need to be either:

  • a nonprofit organization located and doing business in the State of Colorado operating tourism-related activities of benefit to the entire state or region
  • Colorado city or county government engaged in tourism promotion or development

Ineligible applicants include:

  • entities that failed to fulfill Colorado Tourism Office grant award requirements within the past fiscal year such as project completion, submitting required grant reporting, proper use of grant funds, lack of acknowledgment, and changes to the proposal without approval
  • for-profit organizations
  • individual attractions and/or businesses
  • organizations that received a Colorado Tourism Office event sponsorship in the same fiscal year

For the small tourism marketing matching grant, the lead applicant's marketing budget from the previous fiscal year cannot exceed $100,000.

Eligible projects for small grant

Eligible projects develop a Colorado travel region’s brand story or positioning statement and/or use Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) marketing opportunities:

You may use the grant and matching funds for:

  • media placement (print, digital, out of home, television, social, and radio)
  • creative advertising production (print, digital, out of home, video, social, and radio) 
  • content development (written, video, or audio)
  • print collateral (brochures, guides, maps)
  • fulfillment costs
  • website development/website search engine optimization
  • video production
  • mobile app enhancement

These expenses are not eligible for the grant and matching funds:

  • employee salaries, personnel costs, and grant management costs
  • agency commissions and fees
  • office supplies, items for resale
  • gift cards lobbying
  • educational conferences, advocacy program and membership dues
  • travel expenses
  • purchase or rentals of equipment or supplies
  • food or alcoholic beverages
  • gateway, way-finding, or informational signage

Eligible projects for large grant

Eligible projects are for new marketing initiatives. Grants will not be awarded to fund existing marketing efforts unless the funds are for a new set of initiatives or outcomes or you are expanding the program into new markets or media. The list of eligible and ineligible uses of funds applies to both grant funds and applicant’s matching funds.

You may use the grant and matching funds for:

  • media placement (print, digital, out of home, television, social, and radio)
  • creative advertising production (print, digital, out of home, video, social, and radio) 
  • content development (written, video, or audio)
  • print collateral (brochures, guides, maps)
  • fulfillment costs
  • website development/website search engine optimization
  • earned media/public relations, familiarization tours, media events and influencer trips 
  • international marketing opportunities
  • trade show registration fees and booth rentals (only 10% of CTO grant dollars are eligible for travel/lodging/per diem fees associated with a tradeshow)

These expenses are not eligible for the grant and matching funds:

  • employee salaries, personnel costs, and grant management costs
  • agency commissions and fees
  • office supplies, items for resale
  • gift cards
  • lobbying
  • educational conferences, advocacy program and membership dues
  • travel expenses, except expenses for familiarization tours or trade show attendance, as specified above
  • purchase or rentals of equipment or supplies
  • food or alcoholic beverages
  • gateway finding or informational signage

 Applications are not currently being accepted. Please sign up for the Colorado Tourism Office email updates to stay updated on when this application will open. 

This application opens and closes every year in the summer.

Apply on the OEDIT application portal. Log in to your account or create a new account. To protect your personal information, we manually add new users to the portal, so it may take several days to activate your account. Instructions for navigating the grant portal are available.

Your application needs to include a:

Application materials

Supporting documents

You will need to provide:

Application questions for Small Tourism Marketing Matching Grant

The questions below are only a reference and do not include all of the information you need to include in the application.

  • Project title
  • Short project description to be used for CTO publicity materials
  • Describe the project for which funding is requested (details should include goals and objectives of your project)
  • How does this project enhance or expand your current marketing program (details should describe the need for your project)?
  • How does this project align with the Regional Branding initiative strategy and support the larger story of a region?
  • Detail the metrics you will use to measure/define success for your project, in the short-term and in the long-term
  • Describe how the project will increase tourism revenue and economic benefit to the state and/or your community

Application questions for Tourism Marketing Matching Grant

The questions below are only a reference and do not include all of the information you need to include in the application.

  • Identify the grant category applicable to your proposal, whether:
    • statewide industry sector – statewide organizations, destination travel groups and tourism associations in Colorado currently involved in statewide tourism promotion and development
    • other regional partnerships – two or more Colorado communities, large or small, that are currently engaged in Colorado tourism promotion or development
    • county/local destination marketing organization (DMO) – an individual county, local municipality, or DMO currently engaged in Colorado tourism promotion or development
  • Project title
  • Short project description to be used for CTO publicity materials
  • Describe the project for which funding is requested (details should include goals and objectives of your project)
  • How does this project enhance or expand your current marketing program?
  • How does this project align with the brand story and positioning statement for the applicant’s Colorado travel region?
  • What is your promotion or marketing plan for the project?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • Detail the metrics you will use to measure/define success for your project?
  • Describe how the project will increase traveler spending and economic benefit to the state and/or your destination and travel region?

Small Tourism Marketing Matching Grant applicants receive decisions in mid-August. Tourism Marketing Matching Grant applicants receive decisions in early September.

This is a competitive award program, and not all applicants receive funding. The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) will appoint a committee to review applications. CTO will award grants based on application scores and availability of grant funding. The committee prioritizes projects that further develop a Colorado travel region’s brand story or positioning statement, as described in the Colorado Tourism Office Regional Branding Initiative Report.

Reviewers will prioritize applications that include:

  • projects that further promote or develop the brand story of the applicant’s travel region and/or contribute to a statewide marketing initiative
  • marketing plan that states clear objectives and attainable deliverables targeted toward attracting travel and tourism to Colorado or the proposed region
  • applying entity with a track record of effective work, evident through strong support letters
  • well-planned project timeline and budget
  • project effectiveness plan with clear, appropriate, and achievable outcomes
  • demonstration that project will achieve good return on investment by 1) promoting increased traveler spending and 2) increasing economic benefit
  • clear writing and a strong case for support

Small Tourism Marketing Matching Grant

The committee will score applications on these criteria. 

  • marketing effectiveness (30%)
  • financial and development need (15%)
  • implementation capacity, planning, and management (10%)
  • performance measures (10%)
  • expected impact and return on investment (35%)

Tourism Marketing Matching Grant

The committee will score applications on these criteria. 

  • strength of marketing plan (40%)
  • expected impact (35%)
  • performance measures (15%)
  • implementation capacity (10%)

Follow instructions in the grant award email and submit any requested documents within three weeks. We award funds through electronic funds transfer after we’ve finalized a purchase order.

Our 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.

You need to:

  • not begin project activities until the contract has been executed and signed
  • complete your project within the approved grant timeline and contract end date
  • keep the project budget updated throughout the lifetime of the grant
  • submit an interim report and updated project budget
  • submit a final report and final budget, including documents for expenses incurred, 30 days after the grant period ends

Marketing Best Practices     Photo Guidelines     Press Release Template 

Acknowledgement

All advertising and promotional materials that are funded in part by Colorado Tourism Office funds need to include the official Colorado Tourism Office logo. When appropriate, advertising and promotional materials developed through Colorado Tourism Office funds should include a reference to the applicant’s travel region. Websites need to reference the applicable travel region.

Main Logo

Stacked/Vertical Logo

Changes to proposal

The Colorado Tourism Office needs to approve any significant refinements, clarifications, modifications or changes to the proposal or you organization may forfeit grant funds. Organizations should complete and submit the Proposal Change Form. We will not accept proposal change forms 60 days or less from the end of the project.

Project timeline and report

You need to complete your project within the grant cycle period. You need to submit your final report within 30 days of completing your project. In the final report, submit a budget, invoices, expense receipts, and proof of payment and describe what you accomplished with the grant.

Expenses incurred before purchase order execution are not allowable expenses.

Unused funds

You need to return any unused grant funds to the Colorado Tourism Office.

Program Manager

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