The Western Slope Rural Philanthropy Days, an event that comes to southwest Colorado just once every four years, will be held in the North Fork Valley for the first time.
The regional conference serving Delta, Eagle, Garfield, Mesa and Pitkin counties will take place June 12-14.
As co-chair of the regional event, Elaine Brett is working with a steering committee on programming, marketing, hospitality, logistics and fundraising.
The theme of the conference, "Blazing Trails and Building Community," represents the innovative and collaborative work that is happening across the five-county region, and organizers see the event as a way to highlight and expand the work nonprofits are doing in western Colorado.
She and Michelle Livingston, event coordinator, not only want to provide opportunities for local nonprofits to meet one-on-one with funders and participate in professional development opportunities, they also want to showcase the Western Slope and Delta County, in particular.
"We are looking to provide a unique experience," said Brett. "We want to show the good things about Delta County, for sure, but we also want to demonstrate the need for funding."
Sheila Maki, a Hotchkiss town trustee and "all-around community member," is helping with fundraising and marketing. "It is really an awesome opportunity to sit down face to face with somebody from Anschutz, Boettcher or the Adolph Coors Foundation and talk to them about what projects they're interested in, and what projects they steer away from."
These funders support a wide range of projects, from Little League baseball to fire department fundraisers, but each has an area or two of particular interest.
Brett likens the signature event of Rural Philanthropy Days to "speed dating," where nonprofits have two minutes to pitch their project to the funders.
"The nonprofits leave with a really good indication of potential with a major funder or a smaller foundation," Brett said. "In the past, this round robin format has had really accelerated and increased the amount of funding that comes to an area.
"We will be looking for some really nice returns for Delta County, and hopefully people will feel they've learned more about grant writing, fundraising and other leadership skills," said Brett.
Brett expects about 300 participants, including 40 or 50 "funders" from state agencies and private foundations that include the Gates Foundation, El Pomar, Anschutz Family Foundation, Adolph Coors Foundation and many more.
"Because we're small, we are going to have to be very creative about logistics and lodging," Brett said. "We are trying to engage as much of the community as we can. We will be using facilities in Paonia and Hotchkiss, but we're also counting on participation from the Delta and Surface Creek areas, as well as Delta County and the county commissioners."
Logistics will likely include some form of shuttle linking all the sites.
Although the schedule is tight, the steering committee hopes to put together some tours that will give a taste of what Delta County has to offer. Plus, Rural Philanthropy Days will piggyback onto North Fork Uncorked, the first wine event of the year. "We're hoping to encourage people to stay on, to get to know the county even better," Brett said.
You can follow the progress of the Western Slope RPD Steering Committee as they plan details of the conference by visiting www.westernrpd.org and liking Western Slope RPD on Facebook.
Registration for Western Slope RPD will open in the spring.
Scholarships will be available, so don't let money be a deterrent, Maki stressed.