RPD General Information
For 25 years, local communities have worked together to coordinate Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) in partnership with Community Resource Center, Anschutz Family Foundation and statewide grantmakers. The RPD program provides a powerful opportunity for the state’s most influential funders, government representatives, business leaders and local nonprofit organizations to strengthen partnerships and better meet the needs of Colorado’s rural communities. Our results have continued to reflect success by providing increased access to resources, skill building opportunities for important local projects, and cultivating relationships on a regional scale.
Rural Philanthropy Days is a statewide program promoting excellence in Colorado’s rural communities by providing nonprofit leaders access to the resources they need to make an impact. Based on pre-existing geographical partnerships, we have strategically divided Colorado’s 52 rural counties into 8 rural regions. Each of the regions has differing characteristics, identities, and needs that separate them from one another. Each year, we work in collaboration with local community leaders and nonprofit professionals from two of the eight regions to plan and execute their own conference. Individuals who participate in the program are able to increase the effectiveness of their missions, build meaningful collaborations, and achieve fundraising goals. When a region is not planning a conference, these same community leaders and nonprofit professionals help identify high quality trainings to meet their community’s needs. We expanded our program to include the regional Listening Tour and additional conference programming, which aims to engage funders, government officials, community leaders, and nonprofits in collectively identifying and addressing regional community needs.
Program History and Origin
In 1989, Community Resource Center conducted research on rural giving across the state using the Colorado Grants Guide. We found that only 3 percent of grants from Colorado’s private funding community were awarded outside of the Front Range. In response, the Anschutz Family Foundation (AFF) initiated the Rural Philanthropy Days program to bridge the disparity of opportunities available in rural Colorado, as compared with the state’s metro areas. In 1991, an inaugural conference was held in Grand Junction. It provided an opportunity for rural nonprofit professionals to network, build relationships and educate foundation staff and each other about rural needs and services. In 1997, we forged a formal partnership with AFF to coordinate a statewide Rural Philanthropy Days program.
In 2000, we divided the state into seven rural regions spanning 54 counties and implemented a twice annual conference structure, taking place in June and September of each year.
In 2012, a group of RPD funders, led by the Anschutz Family Foundation, voiced a desire to better understand the overarching needs of rural communities. As a result, we expanded RPD programming to include a regional Listening Tour in advance of each conference and the Community Dialogues during each event. These components provide a platform for collaborative dialogue to discuss regional needs and leverage funding decisions.
In 2015, we re-aligned the now eight rural regions to better serve the established partnerships and geography of the state. This current regional structure serves 52 counties that boast nearly 5,000 active nonprofit organizations. The state is recognized as having one of the most comprehensive and robust rural funding programs in the country.
Since the inaugural event in 1991, we have partnered with nonprofit professionals and community leaders across Colorado to host 36 conferences in 29 different towns and cities. Past host communities have included small, isolated towns like Ouray and Saguache as well as regional hubs such as Durango, La Junta, and Alamosa. Host communities have ranged in population from 500 to 15,000, but in 2015, RPD visited our smallest community yet, the Town of Creede, with just 290 full time residents.
Over the course of the program’s history, many other foundations have assisted in making Rural Philanthropy Days a great success. In 2014, the 12 core funders of the RPD program awarded over $25 million in grants to Colorado’s rural communities. Eight of those 12 core funders rank in the top twenty foundations in Colorado in terms of giving power, making a huge impact in rural Colorado.
Why Should I Attend a RPD Conference?
RPD program offerings are open to anyone who would like to be involved in philanthropic efforts to improve Colorado’s rural communities. Nonprofit professionals, government agencies, volunteers, board members, foundation staff, elected officials, and other community-minded individuals will benefit from participation.
RPD workshops teach the skills necessary to work in a community or nonprofit organization, such as fundraising, financial management, volunteer management, board development, strategic planning, and leadership skills. The program relies on a strong and talented pool of the state’s leading experts to instruct its courses.
Five Reasons to Get Involved with RPD!
- Attend quality workshops and improve your skills as a nonprofit professional;
- Network with other nonprofits in your region and begin new collaborations;
- Present to funders that you would otherwise not have the opportunity to meet, and increase your funding;
- Meet nonprofit professionals who have had the same challenges as you and learn how to overcome them through shared experience;
- Reinvigorate your passion for your role.
How is a RPD Conference Structured?
Typically, a RPD conference involves Front Range funders traveling to a region in rural Colorado for a three day immersion opportunity. Rural grantseekers interact with these funders through panel presentations, networking activities, mission-based discussions, and dozens of professional development workshops. These activities are chosen and coordinated by local steering committees, which are comprised of rural nonprofit, government, and business leaders, CRC, and Front Range funders.
Each conference culminates in a series of round table discussions that always takes place on the last morning. Each grantmaking entity hosts a table in a “speed dating” style session. During several sessions, nonprofits rotate tables to share their story, briefly presenting their nonprofit mission and program focus. This exchange provides grantseekers and funders with a sense of whether there is enough of a fit to move forward with a proposal for funding. CRC and AFF provide critical trainings throughout the region prior to the roundtables, in order to better prepare nonprofits on how to give their pitch for maximum impact.
Grantmakers and government officials consistently identify the desire to better understand the overarching needs of rural Colorado communities, and the local efforts to address them. In 2014, a pre-conference Listening Tour and facilitated community dialogues at the conference were added to each RPD. Through these unique offerings, staff of foundations and government organizations become deeply acquainted with major community strengths and weaknesses, and are able to identify specific collaborative opportunities they can support.
Meet RPD’s Core Funders