Eagle County Gives Day raises over $2 million for local nonprofits

The year-round collective effort of the organizations involved allowed the collective to surpass its goal and previous years’ donations

Members of the Eagle County Gives collaborative pose for a group photo at the Eagle County Gives Rally, which took place Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 4 Eagle Ranch near Wolcott.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

On Colorado’s annual day of giving, community support exceeded expectations for the 50 local nonprofits that form the Eagle County Gives collaborative. On Tuesday, Dec. 7, the local group received over 4,000 donations totaling $2,051,214 — far exceeding its goal and previous years’ donations.

Since 2010, Eagle County Gives has worked together to raise funds for the 50 nonprofit organizations involved in the group. For the 2021 Colorado Gives Day, Eagle County Gives had a goal of raising $1.75 million dollars, just above the $1.5 million it raised last year.

“This year’s success of Colorado Gives Day is attributed to the incredible efforts of each individual collaborative around the state combined with the generosity of donors, and Eagle County is no exception,” wrote Brooke Skjonsby, executive director of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund and Eagle County Gives Collaborative president, in an email. “The ability to exceed our Eagle County Gives goal yet again this year raises the tide for all nonprofits here in Eagle County, enabling each of us to provide essential services to locals here in the Vail Valley who need them most.”

Even throughout the challenges of the pandemic, the organizations were thrilled to receive donations from the community.

“It has been amazing to see such fantastic support from this community for our mission to inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education, especially considering the challenging time we are currently all experiencing,” said Paul Abling, the marketing and communications director for Walking Mountains Science Center.

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This support, Abling added, allowed the organization to survive a challenging year.

“Through lockdowns and quarantines, many in our community felt safe outdoors exploring the beautiful place we all call home. We adapted countless programs and through it all actually ended up reaching more youth in this community than ever before. We were only able to do it because of the support we receive from the community through donations,” he said. “Every donation this past year went a little further considering the increased costs we realized due to limited program capacities and other hurdles everyone had to overcome.”

Leading up to this past Tuesday, Eagle County Gives did a lot of things that can be attributed to the success of this year, according to Grace Anshutz, development manager at Bright Future Foundation and co-marketing chair for the Eagle County Gives executive committee.

Anshutz added that this year, this included new marketing efforts and business partners and sponsors, a rally hosted a week before Colorado Gives Day, as well as the continued community work that each nonprofit does, day in and day out.

“The work that each of the nonprofits do to connect with their donors throughout the year so that on Colorado Gives Day local donors are ready to support their favorite causes,” she said, adding that this was something she experienced directly at Bright Future Foundation.

“We saw record-breaking success proportional to the growth of the entire collaborative,” Anshutz said. “The new shelter, The BrightHouse, has given us increased visibility in the community, as well as an increased financial need so we saw both new donors and upgraded donors through the Colorado Gives Day campaign.”

For Walking Mountains, another nonprofit in the collaborative, while Eagle County Gives Day provides it with funds that are vital to the fulfillment of its mission, the day of giving means much more to the organization, Abling said.

“Eagle County Gives Day is about much more than one organization or donation. It is about a community that rises to give when and where they live to support local causes in Eagle County that they are passionate about,” Abling said. “The Eagle River Valley is a much better place because of all the fantastic nonprofits here and everyone that supports them.”

Eagle County Gives received over 4,000 donations totaling $2,051,214 on Colorado Gives Day, which took place Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

This collaborative effort not only has allowed the organizations to boost collective donations each year, but it offers an opportunity for them to support each other’s missions, raise awareness and dollars, and overall enable each other to keep serving the community.

Dan Pennington, the chief external affairs officer at Vail Health and president of the Vail Health Foundation, wrote in an email that being a part of this collaborative group allows an opportunity for the foundation to raise awareness for its own causes as well as support other local organizations.

“Larger established nonprofits like ours offer leadership and expertise to some of the smaller, newer ones,” he wrote. “The annual campaign is a collaborative effort that brings us together for a common goal: raise as much as possible for our mountain community. Additionally, our group fosters connections that go beyond Colorado Gives Day. We share best practices, raising the bar of fundraising.”

This year, Pennington wrote that donations from Colorado Gives Day to the Vail Health Foundation will support its most pressing needs and those to Eagle Valley Behavioral Health will go toward its “It Takes A Valley: Capital Campaign.”

“The pandemic has exacerbated behavioral health issues for people of all ages in our community. It has exposed the need for access to behavioral health treatment, school-based services, crisis response, and more,” he wrote. “We have seen through COVID-19 that we can break the mental health stigma and get creative with solutions like telehealth, peer support, and youth development for our Hispanic population. Each donation helps us provide vital resources to our behavioral health community partners.”

Keeping the ball rolling

Vail Health Foundation and My Future Pathways staff spiritedly greet commuters in the Edwards roundabout to encourage donations on Colorado Gives Day.
Vail Health/Courtesy photo

For many organizations in the Eagle County Gives group, this day is their single largest day of fundraising each year. And while the donations received on Colorado Gives Day help support each organization’s mission-critical work all year long, many of them also require support, through volunteers and donations throughout the entire year.

“Colorado Gives Day is unique because it highlights what the power of community grassroots generosity can accomplish,” Pennington wrote. “Improving health care and well-being is a year-round effort, so we welcome creative ideas, collaboration, and philanthropy any time.”

Anshutz added that many of the nonprofits have and encourage a variety of volunteer efforts.

“Whether it’s volunteering to support event logistics or using your skills as a board member, I would encourage local community members to volunteer with an organization they are passionate about,” she said. “The best way to learn about opportunities with your favorite nonprofit is to visit their website for more information.”

And in celebrating the successes of another Colorado Gives Day, the Eagle County Gives collaborative is already looking forward to next year.

“We will get together in the coming months to celebrate our success and reflect on growth opportunities for next year including adding new nonprofits to the Eagle County Gives Collaborative and creative ideas for getting our messaging out year round in hopes of beating this year’s record breaking success next year,” Anshutz said.

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