Vail Valley nonprofit groups gear up for Colorado Gives Day on Tuesday, Dec. 5 | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley nonprofit groups gear up for Colorado Gives Day on Tuesday, Dec. 5

Vail Mountain Rescue Group is one of the more than 40 area nonprofits participating in Eagle County Gives Day.

EAGLE COUNTY — Rohn Robbins planned ahead. He is already finished with his Colorado Gives Day donations.

"Last Saturday, I scheduled my donations for Dec. 5," Robbins said. "Now I don't have to think about it."

Other potential donors still have a bit more than two weeks before the 10th annual Colorado Gives Day, set for Tuesday, Dec. 5. That's a day of coordinated online giving, with more than 2,300 nonprofit groups participating.

In Eagle County, 45 nonprofit groups are participating in Eagle County Gives Day, the area's local offshoot of Colorado Gives. The nonprofit groups are big and small, but all share a common theme: the desire to help the community.

Robbins has been active in the local nonprofit scene for years and is a founder of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund. That group helped raise needed funds for residents who have been hit with medical crises.

Robbins said the number of Eagle County participants in Colorado Gives Day "has grown exponentially — I think there were six (organizations) that first year."

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The growth of Colorado Gives Day helps all nonprofits raise public awareness about its work. Groups put out the word through channels ranging from newspaper ads to Facebook and email and, sometimes, simply word of mouth.

The growth of Colorado Gives Day has also given nonprofit groups a chance to work together.

"It's a fantastic way for all the nonprofits to work together," Vail Valley Foundation communications director Tom Boyd said. A veteran of the nonprofit world, Boyd said nonprofit groups often find themselves in competition.

"Up here, we're all working together," he said.

Giving is a tradition

But, Boyd added, that spirit of cooperation predates Colorado Gives Day, or even the 1981 creation of the Vail Valley Foundation.

Boyd, who grew up in the Vail Valley, said from the earliest days of the Vail ski resort, people have come together to make the community better.

"Everybody did their part," Boyd said. "They'd pick up a shovel, or lend their pickup trucks."

The Vail Valley Foundation does a lot in the valley, from operating the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail to running the valley's YouthPower365 efforts for the valley's children and teens. But there are plenty of other groups taking on tasks that wouldn't otherwise get done.

Through the Eagle County Gives process, representatives of all those nonprofits meet throughout the year, planning strategy and learning from one another.

But a nonprofit group can't just sign up to participate. All Colorado Gives Day participants must be approved by the Denver area-based Community First Foundation, which started Colorado Gives Day in 2007.

That approval requires tax records and other financial documents.

An approved nonprofit is eligible for more than just the money raised on that date.

The Community First Foundation and FirstBank have created a $1 million pool of matching funds. Those funds are awarded based on how much a group raises.

Community connections

The Vail Valley Cares group every year raises money through its Thrifty Shoppe locations in Eagle and Edwards. The group then distributes money to a number of local nonprofits.

Vail Valley Cares director Greg Osteen said his group doesn't participate in Colorado Gives Day because it already gives money to other nonprofits. But Osteen's a fan of Colorado Gives Day.

"It works well," Osteen said. That's especially true for smaller nonprofits, he added, since those groups can often use a boost in fundraising efforts.

Robbins said the Colorado Gives Day program can boost a group beyond just the day of giving. The Vail Valley Charitable Fund uses its Colorado Gives Day participation as a platform for other fundraising, he said.

Just the lead-up to Dec. 5 also gives nonprofit groups a way to raise more public attention about what they are doing within the community.

"It's been really wonderful for us," Vail Valley Salvation Army director Tsu Wolin-Brown said. It's also been a good way to better identify potential donors and volunteers, she added.

Connecting with donors, volunteers and the community at large what local nonprofit groups are all about, Boyd said.

Through Colorado Gives Day, "we get to make those connections," he added. "Sometimes it's people who have been with us since 1981, and sometimes it's people who are new."

However people come to their associations with nonprofit groups, everyone is welcome. The Dec. 5 giving day is a good way to establish, and grow, those connections.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com or @scottnmiller.

Five facts

What: Colorado/Eagle County Gives Day.

When: Tuesday, Dec. 5

Participants: More than 40 area nonprofits.

How to give: Go to http://www.eaglecogives.org or http://www.coloradogives.org.

Read more: Look for mini profiles in the Vail Daily about participating nonprofits in the week leading up to donation day.