Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Where in Colorado? December

Take a guess for a chance to win a copy of Fundraising: Essential Strategies for Fundraising Success During an Economic Downturn.

Each month, we feature a photo taken during our travels around Colorado. Last September and October, we featured this photograph. No one was able to guess
the Springfield Community Center entrance, Night Watchman statue.

For this month's "Where in Colorado?" we are inviting guesses on a photo from a different part of Colorado.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The following is an interview with one of our 2010 participants about his experience in the 2010 Leadership Program

Terrance Roberts, Executive Director, The Prodigal Son Initiative. The organization provides a wide variety of opportunities such as, after school programs, leadership training and gang violence prevention to help the youth of the Northeast Park Hill community succeed. PSI is changing the lives of young people and helping to revive one of Denver’s most dangerous neighborhoods by bridging ethnic, economic and cultural divides. http://www.prodigalsoninc.org/

1. How have you become a better leader as a result of your participation in CRC’s Leadership Program?

I got a chance to really talk to other leaders and executive directors who were having the same struggles that I was having. We were able to learn together and discuss the challenges of fundraising, staying organized, marketing, personal leadership styles, etc. The high quality training opportunities, coupled with the group activities with other leaders around the state really helped me see my potential and growth. This let me know more of what I needed to be doing to become a more effective leader for my organization and community.

2. What specific technical or management skills have you learned and implemented within your organization?

I have begun to reach out to more funders and personal donors. I have always had a problem asking for resources and money, which is not a good problem to have when running a charitable organization. After the session where CRC had the different foundation leaders and donors discuss what they wanted to see in an organization, and how they would like to be approached, I felt far more confident in reaching out to potential donors and funders and am doing it regularly now!

3. What was your greatest “take away” from the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s Executive Leadership Course?

The rock climbing excursion! I was scared to death on the rock, but when I got the encouragement from the other leaders that I would not fall to the ground if I trusted in their abilities to do their job, I was able to make it all the way to the top of a 100 foot rock! It taught me a lesson about trusting others to do their job so I can go on and do my job. I really needed to learn that lesson.

4. What personal insights have you made as a result of the coaching you received in CRC’s Leadership Program?

I learned that my leadership style is communicated very differently than others. I am always more aware now about how others may be interpreting things I say or do. This is the lifeblood of my business - communication.

5. Do you have other thoughts or comments you would like to make about your experience with CRC?

I thought the entire experience was absolutely great! It was informative, I made a ton of new friends, and I will always remember the experience like going to high school or something of that effect. I think we all will!

6. Would you recommend the Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program to other ED’s across CO? If so, why?

Of course I would! First of all, if anyone is a new executive director or is planning to take on a major leadership role, then they need to learn to feel comfortable exchanging ideas with others. It is imperative for leaders to be able to learn and discuss certain aspects of the challenges and joys of leadership together. They need to develop trust. Being considered a leader is an honor that no one can truly understand unless they have been in that position and able to discuss their challenges with a group and to learn how to manage that roll and the nonprofit business effectively. CRC’s Leadership Program offered me these opportunities and much, much more. It has been a life altering experience!

The program fills quickly so apply now if you are interested! For more information, please refer to our website www.crcamerica.org or call Carol Crawford at 303-623-1540 x 13.

Where in Colorado? September

Take a guess for a chance to win a copy of Fundraising: Essential Strategies for Fundraising Success During an Economic Downturn.

Each month, we feature a photo taken during our travels around Colorado. Last month, we featured this photograph. Congratulations to Robert who was the first to correctly guess Slate River near Crested Butte.

For this month's "Where in Colorado?" we are inviting guesses on a photo from a different part of Colorado.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CRC Leaders Take Leadership to New Heights at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s Executive Leadership Challenge Course

Now in its 21st year, CRC’s Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program is proud to sponsor a 3-day transformational experience for executive directors of Colorado nonprofit organizations. The following interview illustrates what it was like for one of our program participants.

Stephanie Stephens is the Executive Director of the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA), a statewide membership association that provides education, support and recognition for parks and recreation professionals. You can reach her at 303.231.0943, by email at stephanies@cpra-web.org or via the web at www.cpra-web.org.

Before going, what were you expectations and perhaps hesitations about participating in this adventure?

When applying for the Leadership Program, I used this quote: “And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin. The Challenge Course was the culminating event in my ‘blossoming’ as a stronger leader and as a more confident woman.

I came into the outdoor adventure with some hesitation... what would it be like sharing a ‘bunk’ with others I don’t know entirely well? What will the challenge course really be like? My expectations, though, were stronger than the hesitations. What a great opportunity to stretch my mind and body! And what a fabulous way to remove myself from day to day work craziness and just focus on my abilities and goals for the future of our association.

The adventure did not disappoint!

What were the highlights of your 3 day experience?

So many highlights…
Fellow leaders – There’s no better way to get to know some really fabulous people than to share a room, kitchen and dining table with them. Spending three days with Kara, Mary, Alisha, Julie, Carol, Jim, Leslie and all the others opened my eyes to new ways of thinking, and my heart to new friends. I now have a strong support group to call upon on those days when I just need someone to vent to who understands the world of non-profit leadership!

Rock Climbing – It still gives me goose bumps just thinking about this challenge! I came into the program expecting to take part in the ropes course on site at BOEC. I’ve done ropes courses before and was excited to try a new one. The day I learned we would be rock climbing, frankly, I cringed inside. Gravity loves this rather large backside of mine… how on earth was I going to haul it up a rock wall?!?! Needless to say, with much encouragement, a super support team around me, and a sound ‘I can do this’ attitude, I made it up the rock – twice! Repelling down was a bit more challenging: trusting the rope, my own strength, my support team and the universe; I made it off the blind drop and once again mastered the rock! The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment still inspires me to tackle big projects and challenges today. And I continue to hear my support team around me encouraging “just one more step, Stef.”

What are the most important things you have learned as a result of this opportunity?

#1 – I’m not alone. There are always folks around me to encourage, teach, and care for me; I need to seek out that encouragement, lesson and support from my peers, my Board, my friends and now my new Leadership Family.
#2 – Stop, breathe, pick a path and go… Just like when I was on the face of that (very high) rock, I need to take the time in my everyday life to stop and breathe, look at all of my options, then pick a path and go. No looking back. No procrastination. No ‘I can’t do this’ attitude. Pick a path and go.
#3 – Trust in myself, the team around me and the rope. Whether it’s balancing on a very (very) small ledge I was sure would not hold my big toe, let alone my entire body or choosing a path for our association’s future, I need to trust in myself that I’m making the best decisions I can make with the knowledge and information I have in front of me; trust that the team around me will support me; and hang on to that rope to stay firmly attached to that team and our collective goals.

What kind of impact will this experience have on you as a leader within your organization and community?

This was a very personal growth experience for me, stretching my mind (and body) beyond what I thought I could do. Having that new mindset, I’ve embarked on a few new challenges at the office already with a renewed sense of passion, confidence and willingness to ‘pick a new path and go’. I’ve been able to entrust duties to members/volunteers I once thought only I could do. I’ve employed the ‘stop and breathe’ method when projects have become overwhelming. I’ve called upon my new cohorts for advice, information and yes, just to invite them to come participate in a few of our fun events!

Would you recommend the Executive Challenge Course to other executive directors? Why or why not?

Only if they are willing to look at themselves in a new light, challenge their way of thinking and doing, enjoy making new friends and connections, have a love of adventure, appreciate good conversation over some really fabulous food, like to laugh, and yes, trust in rope!

Thank you for your interview Stephanie!CRC is accepting applications for the 2011 Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program. For more information click here or contact Carol Crawford at 303.623.1540 x13 or email

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where in Colorado? August

Take a guess for a chance to win a copy of the Colorado Grants Guide.

Each month, we feature a photo taken during our travels around Colorado. Last month, we featured this photograph. Congratulations to Bob Mailander who was the first to correctly guess Gobbler's Knob, Prowers County in Southeast Colorado.

For this month's "Where in Colorado?" we are inviting guesses on a photo from a different part of Colorado.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where in Colorado? July

Take a guess for a chance to win a copy of the Colorado Grants Guide.

Each month, we feature a photo taken during our travels around Colorado. Last month, we featured this photograph. Congratulations to Sean Perkins who was the first to correctly guess Castlewood Canyon.

For this month's "Where in Colorado?" we are inviting guesses on a photo from a different part of Colorado.

Learnings from RPD

Every four years, Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) brings Front Range-based funders to rural Southwest Colorado to connect with nonprofits. The event culminates with the Funder Roundtables, where representatives from governmental agencies and private foundations sit at tables with 8 empty chairs. When the whistle blows - a train whistle in Southwest Colorado to celebrate our Narrow Gauge Railroad - over 200 nonprofit leaders dash to grab an empty chair next to a funder they want to meet. Each nonprofit has 2 minutes to make a pitch and gets immediate feedback about whether their program is a good fit for the funder. The Train Whistle blows, and the nonprofit directors elbow their way to their next table. It’s a mad scramble to make important connections that could lead to money for their needy nonprofit.

This June, I found myself at my second RPD, supporting the Violence Prevention Coalition in its quest for additional support to prevent domestic and sexual violence. I was also there to learn about successful rural philanthropy to highlight on my blog, Rooting Nonprofits. Here are the highlights of what I learned.

Lesson 1: RPD is Not All About the Funder Roundtables.

It’s easy for busy nonprofit directors to say, “I can’t be gone at RPD for 2 ½ days! I’ll go to the Funder Roundtables, and skip the rest.” This year, I watched how some of the best fundraisers in our community approached RPD. For them, the Funder Roundtables are a small part of a larger strategy. They know that the best ways to connect with funders are much more personal and part of an ongoing relationship. These folks join the RPD Planning Committee, serve on boards of statewide organizations, and build long-lasting connections over shared interests that appear to have little to do with the nonprofit they lead.

Lesson 2: Funders are People, Not Piles of Money.

Connecting with funders can backfire when you focus more on your nonprofit than on building the relationship. I watched people angle to sit by a funder at lunch so they could have 15 minutes to talk about the amazing work of their nonprofit instead of just 2. It’s hard – all of us are passionate about the work we do. But funders are people, not piles of money. I observed how they appreciated a real conversation, the kindness of someone getting a chair for them at the cocktail reception, shared laughter. The most successful fundraisers connected as people first, nonprofit leaders second.

Lesson 3: Do Your Homework. Do It Early.

Like most folks, I was juggling other obligations in between sessions of RPD. Life doesn’t grind to a halt when RPD comes to town, and I was glad I’d done my homework early. The Making the Most of RPD Pre-Session was a great kick-start to develop my pitch to funders. While I’d wanted to ditch the session (I’ve got so much to do! I can work on this later!), I’m glad I stayed. It’s always awkward to practice the first chicken-scratch version of a pitch with someone else. My first pitch was pretty terrible – half-formed, way too long, and overly detailed. However, there were gems that came out of that process: a clear way to talk about the broad work of the coalition; positive feedback on how meaningful it is to work with youth to end the cycles of violence; a reminder to demonstrate with stories rather than description. I was thankful I practiced my terrible first pitch on a colleague, rather than a funder.

Lesson 4: Connect. Connect. Connect.

At the evening reception, a colleague said, “RPD is the one event that everyone shows up for.” She was right - RPD is pretty special for a rural community. The lure of funds for our cause means that everyone puts aside their grant applications, mandatory meetings, and life emergencies to make sure they can be there. While we come to meet funders, we also get to know each other better. We are extraordinarily fortunate in Southwest Colorado to have so many dedicated, passionate, caring, and fun people committed to philanthropy. While it can sometimes feel like everyone knows each other, there are always new connections to be made. I sat at one Funder Roundtable that finished a few minutes early. The table burst into a set of conversations. Two nonprofit leaders discussed their shared vision to expand programs with Southern Ute youth. I connected with a school administrator about looming changes in state fiscal policy. I was proud to be part of a community so committed to making connections, not only to funders but also to each other. Rural Philanthropy Days helped Southwest Colorado nonprofits sow our seeds widely, achieving its intention to “Grow Partnerships & Harvest Success.”


Dawn Haney is a community organizer, social justice activist, and nonprofit consultant. She’s currently working with a range of folks, from sexual violence advocates and circus freaks, to meditators and fiscal policy geeks. She brings playfulness and piercing analysis to every situation, seeking to reframe the problems we face into grand opportunities to bring about the change we wish to see in the world. Follow her on Twitter: @dawnmarissa and at her blog, Rooting Nonprofits.