Area nonprofits to huddle on impacts of the recession |

Area nonprofits to huddle on impacts of the recession

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The leaders of more than 30 area nonprofit groups will ask each other this week how they can best respond to the conflicting pressures of the deepening national recession ” a growing need for services and a shrinking pool of donations.

A pair of community forums called by the Aspen Community Foundation are scheduled for Tuesday in Glenwood Springs and Thursday in Aspen. The forums will be recorded by local television crews and broadcast on community access stations around the valley.

According to spokespersons for the community foundation, this week’s forums will follow similar gatherings in December, at which roughly 20 organizations were represented in Glenwood and Aspen, respectively.

“They’re finding themselves in the perfect storm,” said Sonja Linman, program officer for the community foundation.

The organizations are facing a triple whammy, she said ” rising demands for services, diminishing funding and dwindling staffs.

“Really, their big problem is how to maintain staff,” said Deborah Fanburg, for the community foundation’s donor relations officer.

One way that the foundation has been able to help, she said, is in providing funding to help pay staff members and keep them working. The organization announced earlier this month that its winter funding campaign raised some $750,000, nearly double the amount expected.

“The Foundation aimed to raise $400,000, a 20 percent reduction from 2007,” Fanburg wrote in a prepared statement issued March 4. The foundation had collected $500,000 in donations in the prior year’s winter fund drive.

The increase for 2008, she said, was in part due to a $100,000 “anonymous ‘topping’ give” from one donor, which drew in donations ranging from $10 to $100,000.

Now, Fanburg said, the foundation is organizing the forums to obtain “a real pulse in terms of what the need is” among the valley’s 300 or more nonprofit organizations.

“Our role here is to kind of listen and learn,” she said. “It’s sort of a wake-up call. … People are looking for help, not just in money, but in ideas. The heads of every nonprofit that we touch are trying to make it” to one forum or the other.

The Aspen Community Foundation, founded in 1980, manages a collection of donor-advised funds, in which grants are issued according to the directives of the donors themselves.

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