Vail Valley nonprofits put a lot of work, collaboration into Colorado Gives Day

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Colorado Gives Day, a day of on-line giving, benefits hundreds of nonprofit groups around the state, and about 50 here in Eagle County. To learn more, go to or

EAGLE COUNTY — For a county of about 55,000 people, we have a lot of nonprofit groups. On Tuesday, Dec. 4, you can help any of about 50 of those groups during the annual Colorado Gives Day.

The nonprofit groups participating this year — and operating under the Eagle County Gives name — have an ambitious goal: to raise at least $1 million. Donations were just under that mark last year.

The number of participating nonprofits has grown, too.

Mel McKinney, of the Vail Board of Realtors, represents that group at Eagle County Gives meetings. And there are a good number of those meetings. Starting in the summer, the Eagle County Gives executive committee meets once a month. Other participants also meet monthly.

“In recent years there’s a growing sense of collaboration in the nonprofit community — it’s really grown in the past five years or so. It’s really exciting to see everybody coming together.”Maren CerimeleVail Valley Partnership

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Those meetings combine representatives of local nonprofits big and small.

Representatives of smaller organizations are able to learn about strategies and tactics used by the larger groups. But larger groups can learn from their smaller counterparts, McKinney said.

“A lot of smaller nonprofits have to be super creative with getting information out to the public,” she said.

Those creative ideas can sometimes be translated into organizations with larger staffs and budgets.

“There’s so much to learn from each other,” Vail Valley Charitable Fund Executive Director Brooke Skjonsby said.

The Vail Valley Charitable Fund is one of those small groups that does big work. Skjonsby called the larger group of nonprofits a “powerhouse of passionate people.”

Together, those groups do a lot of good in the valley, Skjonsby said, adding, “It’s humbling to be a part of it.”

‘Trying to help the community’

It takes a lot of work to become eligible for Colorado Gives Day. McKinney said any group that wants to participate has to provide detailed information to Our Community Foundation, the nonprofit group that coordinates Colorado Gives Day.

“They look at your financials … your board, what you do, your processes,” McKinney said.

This is the Vail Board of Realtors’ first year participating in Colorado Gives Day. McKinney said approval took several months. The process ensures that only legitimate groups participate in the day of giving.

“You have to be as transparent as possible,” McKinney said.

Vail Valley Foundation Senior Development manager Emily Sessler is the chairwoman of the Eagle County Gives executive committee. Sessler said all the participating nonprofit groups share a commitment to both their individual causes and the group project.

Everyone involved believes the old saying that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” Sessler said. “That’s why we work so well together.”

Maren Cerimele, of the Vail Valley Partnership, had worked on the local committee for several years before stepping back for the 2018 effort, but still follows the group’s progress.

“In recent years there’s a growing sense of collaboration in the nonprofit community — it’s really grown in the past five years or so,” Cerimele said. “It’s really exciting to see everybody coming together.”

Tessa Allen, of Walking Mountains Science Center, said she believes the teamwork and dedication in Eagle County is unique.

“That’s the mindset — raise awareness and work on marketing for all the nonprofits,” Allen said. “We’re all trying to help the community.”

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

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