Nonprofits excited for annual day of giving
EAGLE COUNTY — Vail Mountain Rescue Group does important work without much money. On Dec. 8, you can help that group and a host of others through Eagle County’s part of the annual Colorado Gives Day.
Colorado Gives Day, now several years old is an easy way to make online contributions to your favorite nonprofit groups. The statewide project of the Community First Foundation is sponsored in part by FirstBank, which on Dec. 8 will waive all of its credit card processing fees for donations. That way, every penny of a donation goes directly to identified groups. While Dec. 8 is donation day, donations can be scheduled now, with the funds transferred later.
The day has been a growing success in Eagle County. In 2014, the donation extravaganza raised more than $770,000 for 38 groups. More than 40 groups are involved this year, all of which are hoping to tap into what is an increasingly successful event.
Colorado Gives Day goes beyond individual donations. There are numerous business sponsors, and participating restaurants and lodges will often donate part of their daily sales to the day.
The valley’s biggest nonprofits participate, of course. But there are a lot of organizations on the Eagle County Gives Day website you may not recognize.
Vail Mountain Rescue Group is well-known, of course, but it does a lot of work on a relative shoestring of about $80,000 per year. Everyone who works for the group is a volunteer, but there’s still equipment to buy and other expenses.
Group logistics director Tom Schlader said this year’s goal is about $10,000, much of which will be used to buy the group a new snowmobile, replacing a unit that’s about 10 years old.
“We need to keep our fleet up,” Schlader said. If the Dec. 8 day doesn’t cover the full cost of the machine, then there’s money available from other sources. But if Eagle County Gives Day covers the snowmobile’s full cost, those other funds can be used for other purposes.
Raising money through Colorado Gives Day also gives group volunteers an invaluable resource — time.
“It saves us from having to hold silent auctions to ask for money,” Schlader said. “The more time we spend training rather than raising money, the better off we are.”
Like other participating groups, Vail Mountain Rescue Group has to provide up-to-date information to participate in Colorado Gives Day. That information includes financial documents, certificates of tax-exempt status and state certifications.
Beyond the money raised, Eagle County Gives Day gives local nonprofit groups an opportunity to work together on a shared goal.
“It really raises awareness in the community and the state as to just how much nonprofit groups are doing,” Eagle River Watershed Council Director Holly Loff said. “There’s also so much marketing that we couldn’t do on our own — it really helps get the word out.”
Loff said the watershed group will dedicate money raised this year toward educational programs for both river guides and local school children. And, perhaps, the money donated Dec. 8 will give the group a bit of flexibility in case of unforeseen events.
Loff said that when the Gold King Mine turned the Animas River in southwestern Colorado honey-mustard gold earlier this year, the local group started fielding a lot of questions about the Eagle Mine between Minturn and Red Cliff.
“We didn’t have money allocated toward education for that,” Loff said. Colorado Gives Day gave the group a bit of a cushion to fund those unexpected costs.
Mountain Valley Horse Rescue helps find new homes for abandoned or neglected horses. The group now has 16 animals to care for, and group director Shana Devins said the early winter almost always brings more animals.
“This falls at a great time of year,” Devins said. “We’re usually staring down the barrel of some big expenses.”
Devins said this is Mountain Valley Horse Rescue’s third year participating, and the fundraising has improved every year.
“We’ve learned about the process and how to support it — it’s just gotten better and better,” Devins said. “We’ve already seen people who have scheduled in advance, and a lot of our volunteers have created pages where they speak very personally with their experience.”
Devins said participating in Eagle County Gives Day is also a great opportunity to see the work other groups do.
“It’s an honor for us to sit in the room with the bigger nonprofits and see what they do,” she said.
Snowplowing efforts are a prime example of how sometimes the very people who need a service hinder its delivery.