Give where you live: Nonprofits strengthen our community

On Colorado Gives Day, directing dollars to local organizations positively impacts the entire community

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Mountain West Gives
Aspen Youth Center, one of the 48 MountainWest Gives nonprofits this year.
About Mountain West Gives

A group of nonprofit directors from the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys got together about 6 years ago to work on a regional campaign after seeing a need to direct Colorado Gives Day donations to local organizations. From Aspen to Parachute, there are 48 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives this year. Contributing to these groups will help your money stay right here in the community, providing much-needed services for the people who live and work here in our valley.

To give to one of these organizations on Colorado Gives Day, visit You can also set up donations in advance of Colorado Gives Day, or even set up recurring donations.

With 48 local nonprofits participating in Colorado Gives Day, there are at least 48 ways you could make a significant community impact this holiday season.

In the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys, a regional effort called Mountain West Gives is working to drive Colorado Gives Day donations to local nonprofits. Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide charitable giving drive, is Dec. 8.

“$100 here will do so much more than at the national or state level,” said Julie Olson, executive director of the Advocate Safehouse Project, and one of the coordinators for Mountain West Gives. “It gives soul to our community when we work together and collaborate.”

Olson said that it’s sometimes easy to forget about the work local nonprofits do, but when you look at the services they provide to everyone, it’s easy to see how the impacts are so vast. From environmental causes that affect all of us to English language learning services that contribute to a literate community, nonprofits help us more than we often realize. 

“Nonprofits enrich our community,” Olson said. “They are a safety net in our community which has totally come into place with the pandemic this year — and most likely will be true as we move forward into 2021. I can’t imagine how our region would have fared without our amazing nonprofits picking up the slack.”

Helping our neighbors

Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program’s participants promoting AZYEP at a past Mountain Fair. The program is one of the 48 MountainWest Gives nonprofits this year.

Nonprofits play a critical role in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys, providing important services to meet local needs that wouldn’t otherwise be met. Blythe Chapman, executive director of River Bridge Regional Center, said giving to these groups ensures funds stay in the community to help our neighbors.

“Nonprofit organizations are a bridge between the private and public sectors that help solve more problems to improve the world in which we live,” Chapman said. “In the past, a lot of people in our community were giving to these bigger statewide or nation-wide organizations and the money wasn’t staying here locally. … We’ve got to start with our community here if we’re going to expect any significant support and change for our entire larger community like the state or the nation.”

Making it easy to donate online

Give locally

All of the 48 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives have been fully vetted via a rigorous application process. If you’re thinking about making a donation on Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 8, it can be hard to sift through all of the organizations to find the right cause for your dollars.

At, you can read descriptions about each nonprofit and make your online donation quickly and easily. All of the money donated will go directly to these organizations with incentive funds available thanks to a FirstBank contribution toward Colorado Gives Day.

Olson said the Mountain West Gives website makes it so easy to donate, which is especially helpful for the smaller organizations that wouldn’t typically be equipped to accept online donations.

If you go to the Colorado Gives Day website and search by county, that brings up a false list of organizations because it includes nonprofits that aren’t truly local. For example, national and statewide organizations that might conduct business in the county will appear on the list, but Olson said those funds aren’t necessarily guaranteed to remain in the community.

“They’re not here — they’re not the heart and soul of Garfield, Pitkin and Western Eagle Counties,” Olson said.

On the Mountain West Gives landing page, you can type in the services for which you’re interested in, such as animal-related services or health and human services. It’ll then display the local organizations participating in Mountain West Gives, including descriptions about the causes they support. This helps donors focus their dollars since it can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to give.

“Around here, neighbors are really important. Living in rural Colorado, people recognize that we’re supported by each other,” Chapman said. “Local giving is so important — give where you live.”

Donation goal: $300,000

Last year, Mountain West Gives members received $292,500 from over 1,550 donations.  This year for 2020, the goal is to raise $300,000 via 1,600 donations. Help Mountain West Gives reach its goal by making a donation at

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