By Sarah Hidey, Co-Managing Director

Yesterday afternoon I gathered with 200 other nonprofit and foundation professionals in Colorado for the third annual State of the Sector event held at the Studios at Overland Crossing, hosted by the Colorado Association of Funders and the Community Resource Center. This event brings together stakeholders to celebrate the sector and its impact—motivating and inspiring them to another year of innovation and creativity in addressing some of Colorado’s most pressing social issues!

Some key takeaways:

  • Panelist Tamara Tormohlen (executive director of Aspen Community Foundation) talked about the importance of collective impact—highlighting how ACF’s Cradle to Career initiative has transformed the way collaboration is done in rural Colorado.
  • Tamara also had a few suggestions for nonprofits wondering how to prepare for the potential impact of changes to the tax code that will impact charitable giving. She said: “Pay attention. Analyze. Talk to donors”—pay attention to the details of the law. Read about and know what is going on. Analyze how it will impact the types of gifts you get. Talk directly to your donors, asking them, “How do you think the tax laws will affect you?”
  • Panelist Jehan Benton Clark (program director – Community Engagement at Colorado Health Foundation) talked about philanthropy’s role in promoting racial justice and equity. She said the sector must first recognize its role in contributing to injustice in the past. Then it must look internally: “Who is in the board room and who is on our staff?” Is it representative of the community? Lastly, funders need to recognize the power and privilege they have, and then commit to using this to lead the way in equity work.
  • Panelist Vikki O’Neal (senior vice president, Hunger Free Colorado) said she sees the sector as being more determined than ever to solve the problems in our community—specifically referencing Hunger Free Colorado’s collaborative Blueprint to End Hunger that was recently released.

Unrelenting. Persistent. Determined. Excellent. These are just a few words used to describe our collective work to make Colorado a better place for ALL people that I heard tossed around today. But the descriptive word that stuck with me the most? WOKE.

Jehan Benton Clark described our sector as being “woke”—now more than ever, as we are all increasingly paying attention to what is happening on a local and national level. She said that she sees how our sector is thinking about the intersectionality between the different issues we work on—immigration, gender, health, education. In the past, we may have gotten comfortable in our ways, but today we are all WOKE, and we are partnered together to resist all that tries to tear our communities apart.