Representatives from 20 various Surface Creek nonprofits, churches and other organizations gathered together May 1 to discuss the challenges they face and how to better collaborate.
"There's a lot of you working together on various projects and I wonder if there's a way for us to work smarter, not harder," said Kami Collins, economic development coordinator for the Town of Cedaredge. "A healthy nonprofit system is really important for economic development."
The meeting came as a result of hearing how nonprofits feel they're struggling, commonly with funding and volunteers. Deborah Shaffer, executive director for the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center, addressed the belief that since the art center opened, other nonprofits are feeling a strain.
"We want to be a key community resource," she said referring to how they're trying to be an aid not a hindrance.
One way to improve the challenges might be with collaboration. For example, Collins pointed out that, "If we're all trying to raise money for scholarships or feed the hungry then what ways can we collaborate?" She also suggested coordinating for events, such as placing a fundraiser supper before a movie night event at another organization.
A universal calendar and email list were two ideas suggested. A universal calendar would help reduce conflicts and competition for events that occur at the same time. Community calendars exist, such as with the chamber and town, but one person pointed out that there needs to be more emphasis on nonprofits submitting their events. However others identified that the conflict tends to arise in the planning process.
Collins also suggested they use collaboration to better meet the needs of the community, such as offering bingo after the community meals as a way to unite the two events while expanding attendees.
A large portion of the meeting focused on getting to know the various nonprofits. Each one shared a success they've seen in the last year. Collins asked the group to consider, "How could the organizations have collaborated to make the nonprofit success more beneficial to the community?"
Several successes focused on ways they served the community. For example, Surface Creek Community Services emphasized being able to feed over 200 families a month.
Others featured organizational development such as the Surface Creek Animal Shelter's new building or the Cedar Mesa Community Club seeing an increase in contributions for their scholarship fundraiser dinner.
A main challenge echoed with most of the organizations was lack of volunteers. While many nonprofits want to do more, they struggle with having enough people to make the event a success.
Since they had more to discuss, the group will continue the conversation with another meeting on June 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Stotle Shed in Pioneer Town, 388 S. Grand Mesa Drive.