“I am looking for a way to give back to my community”
This answer echoed around the meeting space on a chilly winter evening three months ago, where about 26 women in their 20s and 30s gathered at Breckenridge Brewery in Denver for RMA 20-30’s New Member Orientation.
The question: “Why are you here?”
The desire to ‘give back’, to ‘pay it forward’, to ‘support a good cause’, to ‘make a difference’ - whatever you want to call it, people feeling the call to serve is no new phenomenon. While difficult to pinpoint its exact genesis, philanthropy is believed to have evolved from the Greek philanthropia, or “the love of humanity,” and dates back as early as fifth century BC (Bond, 2011). As time passed, the concept of philanthropy spread across cultures, countries, and continents, and has remained a constant, intrinsic human value despite an ever-changing world.
Fast forward 2000 years or so, and that same spirit of service still unites people to work on behalf of the benefit of others. 25.3 percent of US adults volunteered with an organization in 2014, contributing an estimated 8.7 billion hours, the most hours recorded since the Current Population Survey’s volunteer supplement began in 2002 (McKeever, 2015). Whether via monetary support or by donating one’s time, giving back remains on the rise.
The women gathered at RMA’s New Member Orientation earlier this year are further proof that philanthropy pervades time and space, and while they are the newest members to one of Colorado’s many philanthropic organizations, they certainly aren’t the first. Here’s a look back at the history of Rocky Mountain Active 20-30.
Rocky Mountain Active 20-30, the Denver women’s chapter of greater Active 20-30 clubs, got its start as Rocky Mountain Children’s Foundation when a small group of members consecrated the organization at charter night on Saturday, October 25, 2008, under the direction of its first President, Sara Duke. The founding members identified three initiatives the Foundation would aim to serve:
I.) Developing members, by precept and example, into a more compassionate and serviceable citizenship, and creating and/or furthering in them a desire to participate actively in civic and welfare work in Denver community
II.) Raising funds that will be distributed by the corporation to such tax exempt organizations as are selected by the corporation
III.) Holding and promoting events, programs, and social gatherings and engaging in any lawful action in furtherance of or relating to the purposes of RMA 20-30
I. Developing Membership
Developing RMA membership has only improved since its chartering members began in 2008. With one recruitment wave per year, word of mouth has typically drawn in more potential new members with each application season. The newest wave of RMA 20-30 members may be the largest group to-date, with 26 new faces joining the organization in January 2017. It is not without great leadership that RMA 20-30 as it exists today would be so successful, and we are grateful for the past or sitting RMA presidents who have helped build this organization:
2008: Sara Duke
2009: Annie Persson
2010: Carrie Reger
2011: Tera Keatts
2012: Rochelle Rabeler
2013: Jen Derse
2014: Taylor Surroz
2015: Crissy Paulson
2016: Megan Bolding
2017: Amanda Slater
Together, 57 new and returning members will continue RMA 20-30’s work to raise funds on behalf of Denver’s community needs by serving on one of six committees (Fundraising, Gala, Grants, Marketing/PR, Silent Auction, Social), by increasing grant funds for various Colorado nonprofits, and by improving signature RMA 20-30 events, like Back to School Shopping/BTSS Happy Hour and Fall Gala, as well as exploring new social opportunities to further raise awareness of the impact of RMA 20-30.
As a founding initiative of RMA 20-30, fundraising has remained an integral piece of RMA’s role in the community. Each year, the group sets a shared collective fundraising goal and an individual fundraising goal to hold one another accountable to. Funds raised through various events and sponsorships accumulate the money eligible for granting back to carefully selected organizations in the community.
RMA 20-30 awarded its first significant grant of $20,000 to Smart-Girl in 2010. Since 2010, RMA 20-30 has awarded $390,000 to over 30 local organizations!
2010 Awardees: Smart-Girl
2011 Awardees: Smart-Girl, Red Line EPOC Arts Program, Girls on the Run, National Jewish Health
2012 Awardees: Girls on the Run, Smart-Girl, Wapiyapi, Colorado Youth at Risk, YESS Institute, Downtown Aurora Visual Arts, Colorado Uplift
2013 Awardees: Colorado Uplift, Colorado Youth at Risk, Denver Family Institute, Zuma’s Rescue Ranch, Downtown Aurora Visual Arts, Girls on the Run, Smart-Girl, Wapiyapi, Denver Kids, Families First, Florence Crittenton Services, Kids in Need of Dentistry, Reading Partners, YESS Institute, Hope House of Colorado
2014 Awardees: Families First, Whiz Kids, Smart-Girl, cityWILD, Girls on the Run, Judi’s House, Hope House of Colorado, Kids in Need of Dentistry, Environmental Learning for Kids, Sun Valley Youth Center, Denver Children’s Advocacy Center
2015 Awardees: Judi's House, cityWILD, Denver CASA, Girls on the Run, Tennyson Center, Florence Crittenton Services, Girls, Inc., Hope House of Colorado, Smart-Girl
2016 Awardees: Florence Crittenton Services, Challenge Foundation, Judi's House, Denver CASA, Tennyson Center, Girls on the Run, Platte Forum, Rocky Mountain Children's Choir, Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation
Events have always been at the heart of RMA 20-30’s fundraising efforts. Initial efforts started by hosting small happy hour gatherings to educate the community on RMA’s mission to serve Denver Metro area’s needs.
Over time, ideas for events evolved around a certain time of year that for some families, holds all the promise of a fresh, exciting new school year, but for many, this particular time of year instead signifies the weight of the financial burden a new school year can carry: it’s the Back to School Shopping season. Through trial and error, the development of a Back to School event that would benefit Denver’s kids in need of basic, necessary school supplies has evolved to the current Back to School Shopping Spree, preceded by Back to School Shopping Happy Hour.
Funds raised at the associated BTS Happy Hour directly benefit the Back to School Shopping Spree. The Back to School Shopping Spree provides 100 local kids in need the opportunity to shop for $100 worth of supplies they’ll need to succeed in the new school year. Paired with their RMA shopping buddy, children get to experience a few hours of fun where they are empowered to choose their new belongings without the worry of financial restrictions. For some, a new backpack holds more than dreaded homework - rather, it is something all-new and all their very own, a simple luxury many children may seldom experience.
In addition to smaller scale events and happy hours, RMA 20-30’s Annual Fall Gala has grown to be another signature event. Fall Gala kicked off in 2012 with a “Roaring Twenties” theme - a theme that would be celebrated for three consecutive Fall Galas until 2016’s Gala brought about the change to a beloved classic. Cue a “Shaken, Not Stirred” soiree that would charm even the most suave of the mysterious James Bond players. A black-tie event outfitted in decadence, the Fall Gala invites guests to indulge, even if only for one night. Think: thoughtfully themed food and drink, thrilling live music, highly coveted auction items. 2017 Gala returns Saturday, September 23, 2017, at the McNichols Civic Center Building in Downtown Denver. Keep an eye out for presale information coming in July!
History of RMA 20-30 Events
Major Annual Fundraising Events
2010 - Back to School Bash on September 16, at Space Gallery on Santa Fe
2011 - Back to School Bash on August 26, at RedLine Gallery on 24th Street & Arapahoe Street
2012 - Fall Gala “Roaring Twenties” on October 6, at City Hall Amphitheatre on Broadway
2013 - Fall Gala “Roaring Twenties” on October 5, at City Hall Amphitheatre on Broadway
2014 - Fall Gala “Roaring Twenties” on October 11, at City Hall Amphitheater on Broadway
2015 - Fall Gala “Roaring Twenties” on October 15, at the Forney Museum of Transportation
2016 - Fall Gala “Shaken Not Stirred” on September 17, at the McNichols Civic Center Building
2017 - Fall Gala “Shaken Not Stirred” on September 23, at the McNichols Civic Center Building
Annual Back to School Shopping Spree
2012 - August 4, at K-Mart on Alameda/Broadway benefitting students at Munroe Elementary
2013 - August 3, at K-Mart on Alameda/Broadway
2014 - August 9, at K-Mart on Alameda/Broadway
2015 - August 1, at K-Mart on Alameda/Broadway
Miscellaneous Fundraising Events:
2013 - Cruiser Crawl on July 13, in Washington Park area
2014 - Cruiser Crawl on July 19, in Washington Park area
2015 - Cruiser Crawl on July 25, in Washington Park area
2017 - Mardis Gras Party on February 28, at Mile High Spirits
So, Why are YOU here?
As one of the 26 newest RMA 20-30 members, my voice was one of the many who shared the desire to give back as reason to join this organization at that New Member Orientation back in February.
There are roughly 1.41 million nonprofit organizations - in the United States alone. The chances of finding one with values aligned with your own: very good. Humanity’s desire to help one another is one of few concepts unchanged in a changing world. Even if you are unsure of what you have to offer - it’s worth checking out a few to find a fit! RMA 20-30, though relatively young in its 9 years, is an organization designed to be a vehicle with which Colorado women can not only act on their desire to give back, but flourish. Writing this month’s post, I kept reflecting on something I heard at another Denver organization’s fundraising gala this spring, where an all-star, long-time volunteer was being honored for her decades of service. In her acceptance speech, she said “Everyone has something to give - you just have to find it.” She closed her speech by thanking any person ever affiliated with or impacted by the hosting organization, as each person was a piece of the history of the cause she served, and now, she was a piece of the history for any people of this organization going forward. “You gave me more than I ever gave you,” she said.
Between the blending of new and existing RMA 20-30 members, and improving the structures and processes guiding member activities, there is a renewed energy for the future of RMA. Still, the founding values of RMA 20-30 remain at the core of everything we do. If you are looking for an organization guided by the simple foundation to give back to its community, I encourage you to plug in to RMA 20-30: attend the events, gift your time or money, become a member, recommend a member, or merely spread the word! Doing any of these things makes you part of RMA history, too!
For more information about RMA 20-30, please visit our website: www.rma2030.org.
Bond, S. (2011). Philanthropy in ancient times: some early examples from the Mediterranean. Retrieved from: http://sofii.org/article/philanthropy-in-ancient-times-some-early-examples-from-the-mediterranean
McKeever, B. (2015). The Nonprofit Sector in Brief 2015: Public Charities, Giving, and Volunteering. Retrieved from: http://www.urban.org/research/publication/nonprofit-sector-brief-2015-public-charities-giving-and