Eagle County Gives Day collects $1.5M | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Gives Day collects $1.5M

Giving this year grew 50% from 2019’s donations

Correction: The Vail Valley Foundation’s Black Diamond Ball hasn’t been cancelled, but taken on line. It’s the Star Dancing Gala that raises $1 million in just one night.

It’s been a tough year for everyone. Colorado Gives Day, and its local offshoot, Eagle County Gives Day, provided a day of good feelings on Tuesday.

The annual 24-hour day of online giving exceeded last year’s donation total by roughly 50%. The 2019 donation total was roughly $1.03 million. This year’s donations surpassed $1.5 million.

About 50 local nonprofit groups have coordinated their efforts for Eagle County Gives Day.

Brooke Skjonsby, director of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, is also president of the Eagle County Gives Day board. Looking at this year’s donations brought her to tears on Wednesday.

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“It just showed the power of collaboration in this community,” Skjonsby said. “We’re in this together, and this is raising the tide for all of us.”

Mountain Valley Horse Rescue was among this year’s Eagle County Gives Day participants. Board member Cookie Murphy-Pettee said that group nearly doubled its donations from 2019.

New donors logged on

Some of that boost came from new donors, Murphy-Pettee said. But some of the giving came with a bit of strategy.

The annual day of online giving allows people to donate without credit card fees. Gives Day donations can also make nonprofits eligible for matching funds. That’s why a couple of dedicated horse rescue donors waited until Gives Day to submit their gifts.

Other donors have stepped up in lieu of in-person fundraising events.

The Vail Valley Foundation’s Star Dancing Gala usually raises around $1 million in that one-night event. That event, as well as most others, had to be canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vail Valley Foundation public relations director Tom Boyd said Eagle County Gives Day helped recoup a bit of the shortfall caused by event cancellations.

Boyd said the Vail Valley Foundation received about triple what it expected for Eagle County Gives Day.

“We still have a long way to go to get where we need to be,” Boyd said. But, he added, the day of giving was “validating to our staff after the year we’ve had.”

The Vail Valley chapter of the Salvation Army has also felt the loss of fundraising events. Chapter director Tsu Wolin-Brown said as need has skyrocketed, the drop in donations has hit hard.

The Salvation Army nearly doubled its 2019 donations this year. “It’s so needed,” Wolin-Brown said.

Online giving is growing

Even the Salvation Army’s annual bell-ringing campaign has suffered this year. Wolin-Brown said there’s an on-line alternative to in-person red kettle donations. An anonymous donor has agreed to match those donations up to $10,000.

Online giving isn’t restricted just to Colorado and Eagle County Gives Day. At SOS Outreach, development and marketing manager Kristina Chesney said that nonprofit has been working this year to transition to more online donation instead of in-person events.

“A lot of time and effort goes into planning in-person events,” Chesney said. Putting that time into virtual fundraising has begun to pay dividends, she added.

Online giving can also encourage some to provide matches to other donations.

Matches are a “great way to maximize giving,” Wolin-Brown said.

And donors have stepped up for all kinds of local nonprofits.

At the Eagle River Watershed Council, director Holly Loff said the number of individual donors this year increased 25% from 2019. In addition, many loyal donors increased their donations.

“I think people needed something to feel good about,” Loff said. “Donating to nonprofits is a way to do that.”

By the numbers

$1.03 million: Eagle County Gives Day donations in 2019.

$1.54 million: Eagle County Gives Day donations in 2020.

$39.6 million: Colorado Gives Day donations in 2019.

$50 million: Colorado Gives Day donations in 2020.

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