Yampa Valley Gives Day shatters record again | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Gives Day shatters record again

Effort raises more than $1.3M for local nonprofits

Nonprofit leaders across Routt and Moffat Counties watched with excitement as the ticking screen showing money donated on Yampa Valley Gives Day kept increasing.

Holly Wilson, office manager at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, cheered when the the numbers hit $100,000, $500,000, $1 million and finally $1.3 million, a record-breaking number surpassing the 2020 record of $1.1 million.

Though the amount raised was higher than previous years, Wilson said the number of donations — 5,078 donations to 85 nonprofits — was about the same as previous years. However, many donors gave higher amounts than ever before, which Wilson attributed to more people migrating to the Yampa Valley during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think a lot more people have moved into our community in the last year, and I think they wanted to get involved and give back,” Wilson said. “I think our nonprofits provide critical services and really make up the fabric of our community.”

Wilson did not have the exact numbers for how much money each nonprofit received Tuesday because Colorado Gives Day, the statewide branch of Yampa Valley Gives Day, had not finalized the numbers yet.

“Yampa Valley Gives is a regional champion,” Wilson said.

The program is a product of Leadership Steamboat 2013, an annual local class for Routt County residents to network and increase their capabilities as a leader and community member.

The event brings money to nonprofits from Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Oak Creek and Craig. Nonprofits receiving money range in mission from human services and outdoor preservation to promoting athletics, arts, education and wildlife advocacy.

With only a $5 donation required to participate in the day of giving, Wilson said it helps those who do not have much money themselves give back to causes they believe are important.

“I think philanthropy is not reserved for the wealthy,” Wilson said. “Our community values what nonprofits do for the community and the services they provide.”

While the entire event broke a record, several environmental nonprofits broke their own records, which Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Executive Director Michelle Stewart said may be a direct result of the impacts of climate change being more visible this year than ever before.

Routt County set a new record for summer heat, and snow in December is at an all-time low.

“I think all of the key markers of climate change are really coming to the forefront of people’s minds because they’re changing where people live,” Stewart said. “I think that we have such a unique tide rising with interest in climate.”

Kate Nowak, executive director of Routt County United Way, attributed the day’s success to a sky rocketing population in the Yampa Valley, as well as better publicity and more excitement from community members.

“I think we have gained momentum over the years with this event, so more and more people know what it is and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Nowak said.

The program has grown over the years and now includes marketing campaigns leading up the day itself. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, nonprofit workers lined the corners of downtown Steamboat, waving signs and encouraging drivers and pedestrians to donate whatever they could to causes they care about.

“We know we’re a strong economic driver throughout the community because of the amount of people we employ,” Nowak said. “All the different work that’s done throughout the sectors of the nonprofits makes for a vibrant and healthy community.”

Nowak said the Yampa Valley may be unique in its high concentration of nonprofits for being such a small, rural area, which she said helps make the community such an attractive place to live.

“All the extra things that need to happen to keep a community healthy and educated come through nonprofits and the school system,” Nowak said.

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