Rural Philanthropy Days by the numbers


Staff Writer

Southwest Rural Philanthropy Days took place in Pagosa Springs June 11-13, allowing funders from the Front Range and eastern Colorado to spend time with nonprofit and government agencies from southwest Colorado.

While the economic impact of partnering agencies together cannot be known immediately, several other numbers relating to the conference are known.

According to Kristi Smith, RPD event coordinator, 357 people attended the conference, including, in part, representatives of 185 non-profit organizations from San Juan, Dolores, Montezuma, La Plata and Archuleta counties.

Attendees were offered 40 different sessions Thursday and Friday, with Smith stating, “RPD sessions covered a broad spectrum of topics which included an Excel for Nonprofits computer class, Trends in Philanthropy and Giving, Grantwriting, and Raffle Games Manager Certification.”

Friday, five 30-minute sessions gave grant seekers the chance to connect with 35 potential nonprofit partners that provide grants.

In addition to the business of the conference itself, Smith reported that 50 volunteers helped the conference run.

RPD falls under the umbrella of the Community Resource Center in Denver — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit aimed to helping other nonprofits and community-based organizations with professional development opportunities, resources and training — but also fell under the direction of local co-chairs Briggen Wrinkle (Durango) of The Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado and Mary Jo Coulehan (Pagosa Springs) of Pagosa Verde.

“People have commented it was one of the best Rural Philanthropy Days,” Coulehan said, noting that the event was held in good locations and was high energy. “Our community and the volunteers just, in my mind, were over the top.”

Too, Coulehan noted that the residual effects from the conference will continue for years.

According to the CRC’s website, “In the early 1990’s, CRC found that only three-percent of grants funded by Colorado’s private funding community were awarded outside of the Front Range. Currently, over 30-percent of those funds are now awarded to Colorado’s rural communities. The state is recognized as having one of the most comprehensive and robust rural funding programs in the country.”

Further, according to the website, “The Anschutz Family Foundation (AFF) initiated the RPD program to bridge the disparity of opportunities available in rural Colorado, as compared with the state’s metro areas.”

The first RPD program was held in Grand Junction in 1991.