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Summit seeks to strengthen local nonprofits

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A summit held Feb. 9 to address the unmet needs of local nonprofits attracted 14 representatives from about a half dozen local non-profits.

Diana Yourell organized the event. She is the current executive director of the non-profit Paradise Theatre and former executive director of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration in Boulder. Yourell has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and organized the summit as a way to bring nonprofits together to discuss ways to improve collaboration and meet the ongoing needs.

Delta County currently has roughly 325 registered nonprofits, said Yourell. Organizations might be strong in some areas, but need help in other areas, such as strategic planning or fundraising. In rural areas where population bases are small, issues nonprofits might face or need help with include burnout by board members and volunteers. Some of those attending the summit represented two or more organizations.

They also discussed ways of increasing of donor bases and improving strategic planning, data and business, management, marketing and outreach, and professional support.

Some resources Yourell identified include the Resource Center (www.crcamerica.org), the Colorado Nonprofit Association (coloradononprofits.org) and Region 10 (region10.net).

Nonprofit representatives offered their own viewpoints. Marjorie True is a founding member of A Little Help Paonia, which provides services to its senior members to help keep them in their own homes. She said the nonprofit provides an example of how different groups can come together to solve problems. The organization was started when two groups of seniors started discussing what they need in order to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

The two groups realized they shared a common goal. After creating a plan they realized that establishing the organization would be cost-prohibitive to its members. They partnered with the Denver-based ALH, which shares the same goals. That allowed the local group to afford to move forward with its plans. They now have several members and last fall held their first organized volunteer day.

The organization recently connected with Region 10 and is reaching out to local youth.

Representatives also discussed ways to identify funding opportunities, and how to avoid duplication of efforts.

The latest challenge, said one nonprofit representative, is in finding housing in a tight real estate and rental market. Another said increasing the volunteer base would help fight burnout.

Yourell said she was pleased with the turnout at the meeting, and hopes to offer another summit in Hotchkiss in the near future. She will seek feedback from those in attendance in hopes that the event will open the conversation and help local nonprofits to be stronger. Yourell can be reached at diana_yourell@yahoo.com.

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