Rural philanthropy conference comes to Copper Mountain |

Rural philanthropy conference comes to Copper Mountain

Several mountain nonprofits attended Rural Philanthropy Days in Rifle last summer. Copper Mountain Resort will host the event this year, designed to provide rural nonprofits funding, education and networking opportunities.
Courtesy of the Community Resource Center |

Rural Philanthropy Days, a meeting of the minds between local nonprofits and Colorado grant makers, is coming to Summit County for the first time. The three-day conference will be held at Copper Mountain Resort in September, the Community Resource Center announced last week.

Event coordinator Sarah Swanson said the conference will include three main components: professional development, networking and presenting the organization to funders. The conference will give participants a small taste of Summit County, too, with events planned at the Silverthorne Pavilion and Breckenridge’s Riverwalk Center.

Copper was ultimately chosen as the host for the conference, with offseason availability at the resort and enough space to host all of the sessions in one location.

“They’ve been very generous in working with us,” she said.

“We’re really excited to have it here and show off the community,” Summit Foundation executive director Jeanne Bistranin said. “In terms of the impact, it’s really a great learning opportunity for nonprofits, as well as making contact with a Front Range funder.”

The Summit Foundation, which compiled a presentation that led to the conference being brought to Summit, will also serve with the Fundraising and Hospitality Subcommittees for this year’s event.

Tamara Drangstveit, executive director of the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, and Jennifer Visitacion, of Salida-based nonprofit Guidestone Colorado, are co-chairing the steering committee. In total, at least nine Summit County nonprofits will help host the event.

“There will be workshops on financials, board development, fundraising and of course, strategic planning — just all of the topics nonprofits are interested in learning about,” Bistranin said. “It’s really cool because it’s all in one place.”

She added when local nonprofits were asked if they wanted to host the conference in Summit, the response was “very enthusiastic endorsement.”

CRC divides Colorado into eight different regions for the event, with two regions selected as hosts each year. The “Heart of Colorado” region includes Summit County, as well as surrounding Chaffee, Clear Creek, Custer, Fremont, Gilpin, Lake, Park and Teller counties.

“The biggest opportunity is just being able to connect with other nonprofits and having an opportunity to meet funders other than those in your area,” Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center development director Marci Sloan said. She will also be serving on the Hospitality Subcommittee.

“To be able to attend a three-day conference right in your backyard is a huge benefit,” she added. “All of Summit County really benefits.”


Rural Philanthropy Days has been running in Colorado for 25 years since the Anschutz Family Foundation and CRC teamed up to spread funding opportunities outside of the Front Range. From the six years it has been hosted in the “Heart of Colorado” region, Rural Philanthropy Days has connected 12 funders and 1,026 grants for a total of $20,406,690.

“Funders are coming from all over the state of Colorado, many from the Denver metro area, and are interested in funding rural nonprofits,” Swanson said. “It gives nonprofits in community direct access to funders to help both of them find the right fit.”

Bistranin added the training is equally valuable for local nonprofits, which are often strapped for time and resources in the midst of daily duties.

“In general, nonprofits operate on a lean and mean staff. There might be lots of things you want to try, but you don’t always have the resources to do that,” she said. “I think that’s why they appreciate it so much because they wouldn’t have the opportunity otherwise.”

Though Summit County’s nonprofits are fortunate to work in a collaborative community — not always the norm for smaller counties — she added they are faced with the unique challenge of raising awareness about community needs in an area known for tourism.

“I don’t think they realize what big needs we have as far as working families, the affordability of living here,” she said. “They don’t think of the other side of the coin.”

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