Eagle County Gives prepares for critical day of giving on Dec. 7
Amid the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, local nonprofits are asking the community to give back
Every year, amid the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, Colorado nonprofits ask their communities to give back and support their mission through Colorado Gives Day. And in Eagle County, each year a collaborative of around 50 local nonprofits band together each year to increase local donations that support these organizations’ year-round missions.
This year, Colorado Gives Day will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 7.
“Colorado Gives Day is the largest day of giving in Colorado and it really encourages community level participation to give where you live,” said Grace Anshutz, development manager at Bright Future Foundation and co-marketing chair for the Eagle County Gives executive committee. “For many of our organizations, it’s the single largest day of giving, the day when the community comes together to support smaller organizations.”
Eagle County Gives is a coalition of 50 nonprofit organizations that serve Eagle County in a wide variety of ways. During the 2020 Gives Day, the coalition collected just over $1.5 million in donations.
The support from this day is unique in that, unlike many of the grants and other funds that nonprofits receive, it is unrestricted and really enables the organizations to be flexible and serve their populations.
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“Through this we’re able to use it as we best see fit,” Anshutz said. “And in times through COVID or in challenging years or just challenging circumstances, unrestricted funding really allows nonprofits to deliver their mission without hindrance or financial barriers.”
For Anshutz, speaking directly about her role at Bright Future Foundation — just one of the many nonprofit organizations involved in Eagle County Gives — these unrestricted funds not only help the organization provide its services free of charge, but it allows them to be savvy with the funds and “meet people where they are,” she said.
Erin Ivie, executive director of SpeakUp ReachOut, said that Eagle County Gives Day provides tremendous value to the suicide prevention nonprofit.
“Over 90% of all the individual gifts received by SpeakUp ReachOut each year are made during the Colorado Gives Day campaign. These individual donors support the budget of about $750,000 per year,” Ivie wrote in an email.
Specifically, these donations allow SpeakUp ReachOut to fund suicide prevention programs for over 2,700 youth and 1,800 adults each year.
For Colorado Mountain College Foundation, being a part of Eagle County Gives allows it to “enrich the educational experiences of students and provide opportunities beyond the classroom,” wrote Diana Scherr, regional development officer of the CMC Foundation in Edwards, in an email.
“The funds we receive each year allow us to accomplish a myriad of initiatives,” she wrote. “This coming year, we’re focusing on providing more student scholarships and stipends — specifically for our education and nursing students. The past year and a half has shown the world the importance — and shortage — of teachers and health care providers. We like to think that CMC can help in that arena.”
Both the Vail Valley Foundation and YouthPower365 are a part of the Eagle County Gives coalition. According to Sarah Johnson, the Vail Valley Foundation’s senior vice president of philanthropy, the day is “an incredible opportunity to connect with donors during the season of giving.”
Building each other up
Much like Colorado Gives Day allows these local organizations to serve the community, Eagle County Gives enables these organizations an opportunity to serve each other.
“The collaborative brings together 50+ non-profits each year to support and promote ALL the good work happening in the valley – and that’s what’s so special,” Scherr wrote.
Eagle County Gives has represented a collective effort to raise funds for these 50 organizations since 2010, working together to bolster each other’s missions, raise awareness and dollars, and overall enable each other to keep serving the community. This coalition meets regularly throughout the year to share resources and best practices and just support one another.
“My bandwidth is only so much, but to have this group of leaders and people willing to step up and be like, ‘OK, I’ll do that small part or take ownership of another piece,’ really allows for different strengths to come through and for everyone to play their own unique part in the collective effort,” Anshutz said.
She added that this collaborative of organizations — and even more specifically the executive committee — is indicative of the larger Eagle County nonprofit community.
“The value of our local nonprofit community is definitely the positive energy. I think in a lot of the work that many of our organizations do, it’s easy to have a pessimistic outlook on the world, whether you’re seeing someone at one of the most challenging times in their life or if you’re trying to come up with a solution for a very large systematic problem,” Anshutz said. “The great part about the collaborative is once a month, everyone comes together and there’s such a great energy in the room and you’re able to make connections, not only to support the mission, which is so much at the core of what each of us do, but also create human connection for smaller organizations.”
Wendy Rimel, the Education Foundation of Eagle County’s board president, noted that this energy and positivity is inspiring and really means a lot to the organizations involved.
“There is no competition, we are truly holding each other up and want great outcomes for every one of the 50 nonprofits who participate in the collaborative,” Rimel wrote in an email. “It is a ‘feel-good festival’ of kindness and generosity.”
This positive energy, Anshutz added, is something that helps all the organizations get through even the most difficult of times, which for the past year has included many pandemic-related hurdles.
“Though we are transitioning out of the worst of the pandemic, the challenges of COVID-19 have not ended,” Johnson wrote in an email. “Recovery has been especially slow for young people who are struggling academically and social-emotionally. Programming focused on reaching the most at-risk due to the pandemic, a deepened continuum of programs every step of the way to ensure youth and families are supported, and a refocus on the infrastructure of the high-quality supports offered are hallmarks of YouthPower365’s efforts in this last year and a half, and continuing today.”
Specifically, for many of the nonprofits including Bright Future Foundation, the Education Foundation of Eagle County and SpeakUp ReachOut, difficult times can actually increase the demand and need for their services.
“Since the isolation of COVID, many of us realized our friends, family and co-workers were not OK and pretending things were fine didn’t really help anyone,” Ivie wrote. “We all need to be heard and loved. Through suicide prevention programs funded by Gives Day donations, people learn to be comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. Because of increased donor support in times of increased demand for services, we can all help those who are struggling. Donations help more people provide hope even in the darkest times.”
For many local organizations, the pandemic also took away many of their typical opportunities to raise funds, making Colorado Gives Day that much more important.
“Donations are even more vital to EFEC because our main fundraiser, Project Funway, could not happen the way it has in the past,” Rimel wrote. “We typically raise $250,000 at Project Funway, which we use to keep our staff employees and our doors open. In 2021 despite our efforts to put on a virtual Project Funway we only raised $60,000 — a huge hit to our bottom line. We are staying afloat day by day, and hoping for an in person successful Project Funway this March 2022.”
Even still, through donations and volunteers, the organization is doing what it can.
“In the meantime, volunteers have come out of the woodwork to support our teachers and schools and keep EFEC’s mission alive,” Rimel added. “Right now, donations are what EFEC needs to ensure that we can continue the great work in support of Eagle County School’s teachers, staff, and students. The outpouring of love for our teachers and schools is reflected by the individuals and students who have stepped up to give us their time.”
Not only has the pandemic made some of these large-scale, in-person events difficult, but the cost of implementing programs and events have increased.
“Like so many organizations, we are experiencing increased costs of delivering programs and events and it remains difficult to hire in this climate,” Johnson wrote. “Increased philanthropic dollars allow us to meet increased programming demands and costs. We are so grateful for the support.”
Visit EagleCOGives.org to view the list of local participating nonprofits and donate or learn more about each organization. You can schedule donations for these nonprofits ahead of Colorado Gives Day or donate on the day, Tuesday, Dec. 7. Donations that are scheduled ahead of will get a boost from the state’s $1.6 million incentive fund. Tuesday’s Colorado Gives Day also allows you to schedule or submit donations to multiple nonprofits, both locally and across the state.