Steamboat has received national recognition for its generosity. Here’s why.
In December 2018, GoFundMe recognized Steamboat Springs as the most generous community in the nation per capita on its fundraising website. The designation didn’t surprise anyone; Steamboat has always been known for its strong community – a town that was a town before it was a ski resort. “We live in a passionate valley,” says Mark Andersen, Executive Director, Yampa Valley Community Foundation (YVCF). “People care about our valley and people rise up to support those in need.”
Andersen says the generosity of Steamboat’s charitable community goes way beyond making online donations through a crowd-funding website, but is a much deeper and far-reaching commitment that is long term, if not lifelong. “Our community foundation is about connecting people who care with causes that matter. We are responsive to the needs of the community; determining what those issues are and helping to solve them.”
YVCF provides many resources to the Steamboat and greater Yampa Valley communities, not only to sustain that philanthropic spirit but to bring people together. “When people want to give back, we consider ourselves to be the primary resources in the community for a person or business to be able to do that,” Andersen says. The organization’s goal is to enable individuals at every level to participate in a collective way to come together to make a difference. This inclusive approach is what sets Steamboat Springs apart from other mountain towns where philanthropy is often a high-dollar affair entangled with social status and legacy. “We create funds where people of all ages and financial standing can come together to support they causes they believe in and we will help facilitate that.”
One of the programs YVCF implemented twelve years ago in that spirit is Impact100, a grant-collecting initiative that seeks to encourage 100 people to donate $100 to make an impact with a grant of $10,000. “The idea is to introduce the next generation of philanthropists to supporting initiatives that make our community a better place,” Andersen says.
In fact, education and outreach, especially for future generations, about how to give back is what sustains the spirit of giving in Steamboat. “We believe the health of our community is due to all of our non-profits and what they do in terms of supporting the arts, recreation, and health and human services,” Andersen says. “What we try to do is help people find their passion and figure out what they want to support.”
Another thing that makes Steamboat unique is its part time residents, and getting them involved with local causes is a great way for them to be more involved with the community in general, Andersen says. “What we try to do is help people find their passion and understand the value of giving and multiple ways of giving. It’s not just about writing a check.”
The YVCF works with a wide variety of programs and initiatives that address almost every sector of life in the Yampa Valley. But one thing they all have in common is a real passion for the community that sets Steamboat apart. “What’s really unique about this community is integral with that Olympic culture that thrives here. That desire to strive for excellence; it’s about wanting to make the community the best it can be. People are passionate about it and want to become involved,” Andersen says. “People can feel engaged in that whether they’ve been here for one year or 30 years. They feel connected to the community because we are a real town.”
For more information about the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, go to yvcf.org.