Funder speed dating comes to Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Funder speed dating comes to Craig

Michelle Balleck
Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership

Michelle Balleck

Have you ever been speed dating? Me neither, at least not in the traditional sense.

But a version of speed dating is one of the notable events at the Northwest Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) conference, happening Sept. 27 to 29 in Craig.

If you're involved in nonprofit work and haven't yet heard about this event, I'm not doing my job as the 2017 Steering Committee marketing co-chair. But I want to tell you about this incredible event from my point of view and make sure you understand the importance of this experience.

The conference is in Northwest Colorado — Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties — every four years. This will be my third conference, and I am thrilled to be hosting the 300 attendees in Craig. I served on a committee of Moffat County residents who pulled together to put in a "bid" to host the conference because we knew the significant economic and philanthropic effects this conference will have for our community.

If you are involved in a nonprofit in any capacity or are an elected official looking to fully understand the dynamics facing our communities and nonprofits, Northwest Rural Philanthropy Days is an absolute don’t-miss event.

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If you want to see the great camera work of David Pressgrove and me embarrass myself a bit, you can watch that bid video project at vimeo.com/187032100.

This event is truly one-of-a-kind in that attendance is limited to staff, board members and volunteers involved with nonprofits and elected officials in the five-county region, as well as regional, state and national grant-making organization representatives.

The capacity-building workshops help leaders navigate common issues like fundraising, board and volunteer development, strategic planning and evaluation of programs. The Town Hall gatherings on Wednesday engage cross-sector partners on the most pressing issues affecting our region. The networking receptions offer a chance to get to know the funders one-on-one in a laidback setting over a glass of wine.

Now to explain the speed dating reference. The funder roundtables are probably the most memorable parts of the conference because of the musical chairs vibe of the exercise. On the final day of the conference, grantmakers serve as table hosts for several grantseekers during each round. Each nonprofit representative has two minutes to present his/her organization's operational and project goals and get a red, yellow or green light from the funders about whether they are a good match for one another mission-wise and whether to apply for funding in the funder's next cycle.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the Community Resource Center and Anschutz Family Foundation for driving the statewide Rural Philanthropy Days program and coordinating with our local Steering Committee to make this conference come to life.

If you are involved in a nonprofit in any capacity or are an elected official looking to fully understand the dynamics facing our communities and nonprofits, Northwest Rural Philanthropy Days is an absolute don't-miss event. Not only can you improve your skills as a nonprofit leader, but you can improve your chances for funding our communities' most important projects by building relationships with grantmakers looking to invest in impactful programs.

Get the full run-down of workshops and networking opportunities by visiting NorthwestRPD.org. Register for the conference by Sept. 15. Keep up with RPD news and updates by following the event at facebook.com/nwrpd. And if you have any questions about the experience, don't hesitate to give me a call.

Michelle Balleck is the executive director of Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and Marianna Raftopoulos Business Success Center. She can be reached at 970-620-4370 or director@cmedp.com.