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Rural Philanthropy Days Coming to Southeastern Colorado

If you or someone you know happens to work with a non-profit organization located in Southeastern Colorado, this is an article you need to pay attention to.  Seriously.
Rural Philanthropy Days (aka RPD) is going to be held in Lamar from June 13th to the 15th, and this is not an opportunity any non-profit should miss.
Rural Philanthropy Days
As recently stated by Kaye Kasza, RPD Event Coordinator and resident of Wiley, “Rural Philanthropy Days is a great opportunity for local nonprofits to meet potential funders, network with other local organizations, and learn ways to do their important work better.”

Anyone who’s been involved with a non-profit in this region can attest to the long standing difficulties of connecting with funders in the Denver area.  There’s no doubt about it; applying for a grant can be an intimidating process.  Friendly as the grant managers may be—and they are, typically, very friendly—these are men and women who, nonetheless, are associated with organizations that are typically very large and have specific requirements related to those projects they can fund and those they cannot.  Even when grant applicants get their foot in the door, the process of completing an application can be a challenge as there is usually a specific style and format that must be followed in order for a grant to be considered. 

Far too often, non-profits located in rural areas—like, ahem, Southeastern Colorado--whose needs even match the funding priorities of organizations in Denver end up dropping out of the process altogether because…well…the whole thing can be overwhelming. 

Sue Anschutz-Rodgers, who’s very well known for her long history of philanthropic work in Colorado, was thinking of precisely these kinds of concerns when, over a quarter of a century ago, she was inspired by an idea. 

If people from rural Colorado are uncomfortable coming to Denver to discuss getting a grant, then the funders from Denver need to go to rural Colorado.
Southeast Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days
Thus was born Rural Philanthropy Days, and it’s just as amazing as it sounds.

Twice a year, in various rotating regions throughout the state, a three day conference is held that offers relevant and much needed assistance to non-profits that they would have difficulty finding in one location anywhere else—and, as stated, that location is their own back yard.  Several days of the conference are filled with useful, high interest workshops delivered by experts in their respective fields and designed to provide the exact hands-on kind of instruction and guidance that many non-profits so desperately need.  In between sessions or during any one of a number of social events that are included in the conference, individuals also have the opportunity to network with other people from other non-profits in their same region, an experience that frequently leads to new partnerships being formed and a more cohesive non-profit community being developed. 

On the last day of the conference, attendees then have the opportunity to have short face-to-face meetings with grant managers from a broad range of different large and reputable organizations all for the purpose of “pitching a project”.  If the project ends up being one the funder can support, the person finds out right then and is strongly encouraged to follow up with a phone call and an application in the weeks that follow.  If the project is close but not exactly right on, the person will get feedback on what needs to be done “to make it fit”—also extremely valuable information.  And, if the project doesn’t fit at all, the individual gets that feedback right then, in the moment, and are free to move on to other funders whose priorities might be a better match. 

It gives both those looking for funding and those with funds to award a chance to meet each other in a warm, welcoming, region based and very friendly atmosphere.  You just can’t get that anywhere else.  What follows is a description of RPD as it appears on their website.
Southeast Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days
“The RPD program provides a powerful opportunity for the state’s most influential funders, government representatives, business leaders and local nonprofit organizations to strengthen partnerships and better meet the needs of Colorado’s rural communities. Our results have continued to reflect success by providing increased access to resources, skill building opportunities for important local projects, and cultivating relationships on a regional scale.”

This has proven to be an extremely beneficial conference for this area of the state.  More than $20 million was awarded in grants to Southeastern Colorado from 2009-2016.  In fact, had it not been for RPD and the connections made with DOLA, El Pomar and Caring for Colorado—just three of the funders who were present at the last Southeast RPD—Kiowa County Hospital District would not have been able to purchase and install (in its own building) a CT scanner.  Prowers County received more than $5,725,000. Bent County received slightly less than $1 million.  And the list goes on and on to include awards made in all 8 counties that make up this corner of the state.

However, here’s the catch:  people can only attend RPD when it’s held in their region, and each region sponsors a conference only once every four years.  (Southeast region includes Kiowa, Prowers, Baca, Bent, Crowley, Las Animas, Otero and Huerfano counties.)  In other words, anyone who decides to pass this opportunity up will not have another chance until 2022.  That can be a very, very long time for an organization in need of funds.

There’s a great deal more information on this opportunity that can’t be listed in this article, so anyone interested in learning more should simply query Southeast Rural Philanthropy Days at which point you’ll be directed to the Community Resource Center website where all your questions can be answered. Registration is still open. The cost of the conference will be listed there, as well.

Full disclosure:  Barnett Media, LLC, including staff from the Independent, was hired by Southeast RPD to produce their materials for the 2018 conference.
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