Eagle County nonprofits raised more than $1 million on Colorado Gives Day

Ethan Sherman gets a quick lesson in fishing from Margaret Brammer, who's on the Shaw Regional Cancer Center staff. Brammer spends much of her vacation time as a volunteer at Roundup River Ranch.
Special to the Daily

By the numbers

$35.1 million: Unofficial total from the 2018 Colorado Gives Day.

2,481: Participating nonprofits around the state.

51: Participating Eagle County nonprofits.

$1.076 million: Unofficial total from Colorado Gives Day.

EAGLE COUNTY — Colorado Gives Day just keeps growing. That growth helped Eagle County Gives — a local group associated with the statewide effort — finally crack the $1 million level in online donations this year.

Colorado Gives Day — a day of online philanthropy — was established through the statewide Community First Foundation and FirstBank. A few years ago, Eagle County’s nonprofit groups began working together to have better results from Colorado Gives Day. That effort has grown, with nonprofit groups big and small participating.

John Weiss is the director of the local Small Champions nonprofit. That group helps introduce snowsports to kids with various disabilities. The group runs mostly with volunteers — Weiss and Shannon Thornburg are the only paid staffers.

Using slim resources, Small Champions is a big beneficiary of the Eagle County Gives project. Weiss said funding from the one day of giving helps fund services for as many as one-fourth of the roughly 60 kids who participate every year.

Weiss said in the past much of the awareness about Small Champions has come from families and Eagle County Schools. Participating in the on-line giving project has helped increase awareness, Weiss said.

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“We’ve made a concerted effort to get our name out there,” Weiss said. Eagle County Gives “helps tremendously,” he added. “We’re out there in the Vail Daily, on radio … in different venues.”

Lifting many boats

The boost Small Champions has seen from Colorado Gives Day is echoed elsewhere in the local nonprofit community.

Sarah Ingersoll, a member of the Roundup River Ranch development and fundraising team, said the Eagle County Gives program has enabled that nonprofit to provide a week of rest and relaxation to 120 more kids than would otherwise be possible.

“This was our best year yet,” Ingersoll said. Combined with a matching grant from the Frechette Family Foundation, Roundup River Ranch raised more than $300,000 in just one day.

Working together, local nonprofits big and small are able to combine efforts to publicize Colorado Gives Day.

“You really see the collective impact,” Ingersoll said. “Often our nonprofits look like they’re competing — on this board, we’re getting to work alongside team members from different organizations. It’s so exciting.”

Emily Sessler, of the Vail Valley Foundation, was the chairwoman of the Eagle County Gives Executive Committee for 2018. Sessler said she was “happily surprised” at the donor enthusiasm this year.

Raising $1 million “is something we’ve been trying to do,” Sessler said. That excitement was reflected throughout the Vail Valley, she added. Sessler said she was at dinner on Colorado Gives Day — Tuesday, Dec. 4 — and heard another restaurant patron comment that it was time to go home and make a donation.

“I even heard a couple of people say ‘Happy Gives Day,’” she said.

More work to do

The Eagle County Gives team is taking a break from collaborative work. There will be a wrap-up meeting in January, and work for 2019 will start in earnest in late spring.

But the work at local nonprofits continues.

“We all have year-end work to do. … We’re still working really hard to reach our fund-raising goals,” Ingersoll said.

For the moment, though, local nonprofit representatives have all expressed their gratitude to their donors.

“It makes a huge impact … in lives of everybody we serve,” Ingersoll said.

Mikayla Curtis, of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, said as information about nonprofits spreads, more people are aware of what’s being done by those groups.

The Eagle County Gives effort is “really instrumental in spreading the word,” Curtis said.

Ingersoll said she’s hopeful that the Eagle County Gives effort will touch still more people in the future.

“It gives me goosebumps,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for the next generation. You really see the collective impact, and really showing how when we work together … you can see how far your money can go.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at and 970-748-2930.

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