New group springs up to help nonprofits |

New group springs up to help nonprofits

A new organization has been established in Aspen by two nonprofit officials to assist area charities in their fund-raising efforts.

The organization, called the Devo Group, plans to assemble development professionals from throughout the valley. Bennet Bramson, deputy director for development at the Aspen Art Museum, and Judy Clauson, director of development for Anderson Ranch Arts Center, founded the group earlier this month to enhance cooperation and dialogue between fund-raising professionals.

“There are over 200 nonprofits in the valley,” Bramson said. “We hope the Devo Group will provide a forum that ensures that these nonprofits aren’t fighting each other for funds. We want to enhance cooperation rather than competition.”

While a national organization for nonprofit executives – the Association of Fund Raising Professionals (AFP) – exists, there is no local chapter.

In a recent letter to Bramson, an AFP official acknowledged that its chapter in Denver “has for 20 years … been unable to adequately serve the needs of the Western Slope.”

Bramson and Clauson have contacted the AFP about the possibility of making the Devo Group a chapter of the national organization. In the interim, the group will meet to determine formal goals and also to plan expansion and recruitment efforts throughout the valley. So far, 18 nonprofits from Aspen to Glenwood have expressed interest in joining the group.

Nonprofits such as the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation and the Aspen Valley Community Foundation already work in collaboration with other nonprofits. Yet whereas these larger groups function primarily to provide funding and grants to other, smaller charities, the Devo Group will convene exclusively for dialogue.

Ellen Freedman, CEO of the Aspen Valley Community Foundation, is a strong supporter of Devo.

“What’s unique about the Devo Group is that it’s nonexclusive,” she said. “It’s a group not just for nonprofits in the arts or health and human services. It will bring together a cross section of organizations throughout the area.

“This will provide networking and dialogue opportunities – nonprofits may even find that they can work together in their fund-raising.”

Bramson said the idea behind the Devo Group will appeal to donors as much as to fund-raising professionals.

“If we work together as nonprofits this can only help fund-raising,” he said. “Not that people have to give to more than one charity, just that they’ll be more inclined and comfortable in their giving if they know we are all working in collaboration.”

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