Routt County Riders establishes endowment fund at Yampa Valley Community Foundation |

Routt County Riders establishes endowment fund at Yampa Valley Community Foundation

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In the world of nonprofits, creating an endowment fund is like turning 18. An endowment exhibits longevity and financial stability, setting mature and well-established nonprofits apart from others.

Thanks to a $10,000 gift, the Steamboat Springs nonprofit Routt County Riders has established an endowment fund at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.

“The biggest purpose for a nonprofit having an endowment fund at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation is as a mechanism to facilitate large and legacy gifts,” said Helen Beall, the foundation’s community impact manager. “It provides members of the community, who have a vested interest in cycling, to leave a legacy for cycling in Routt County.”

Routt County Riders members improve and build trails and advocate for cycling in the county. This past year, the nonprofit also took on the shared management of the Emerald Mountain Epic, the intense running and biking race formerly known as the Steamboat Stinger.

While taking on those responsibilities, Routt County Riders was splitting with its trail building side, which brought in about 75% of its funding through paid trail building.

“That was a large part of the revenue-generating stream. This past summer was the first summer we operated without that,” said Routt County Riders Executive Director Laraine Martin. “We had to diversify our funding streams. … The board of directors was ready to move back toward a simple, streamlined volunteer and program-driven cycling advocacy nonprofit.”

Returning to its roots, Routt County Riders is opening the endowment fund in its 10th year as an official nonprofit. The group has existed since 1991, though.

The endowment fund will sit untouched for a while, growing each year. When Routt County Riders starts to pull from it, the funds will go toward snowmobile grooming programs, volunteer programs, the ambassador program and more.

Despite many suffering financially in 2020, philanthropy has hit new highs. Those who have the ability to give to others have been taking advantage of that privilege.

“In the case of donations, the foundation has never been busier,” Beall said. “We have facilitated more money out in grants and more money in in (the form of) gifts than we ever have before, and not just by 5% or 10% but by a 30% to 40% increase over years past.”

Of course, not all nonprofits have had the same fundraising success during COVID-19. Beall said many organizations relating to health and human services have received a lot of donations, while the endowment funds of nonprofits focusing on recreation or arts and culture haven’t seen as many dollars coming in.

The Yampa Valley Community Foundation is in the middle of a 25% match challenge. Any nonprofit with endowments at the foundation can earn 0.25 cents for every dollar donated to another fund. A nonprofit can earn up to $10,000 through the incentive match challenge.

Still, despite some uncertainty, it’s not necessarily a bad time to start an endowment fund.

“It’s not a bad time to open an endowment because it’s not about the gifts that come in today,” Beall said. “It’s about creating that mechanism for gifts in the future.”

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