We spoke with Deb Mahan, Executive Director of Gazette Charities in Colorado Springs, CO about their efforts to serve the community in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
How did COS Connect come about?
Gazette Charities has been around since 2001, as the philanthropic arm of The Gazette. We also serve as an affiliate foundation of The Anschutz Foundation, within El Paso and Teller counties.
For the past 36 years, we have run an annual, year-end philanthropic campaign called the Empty Stocking Fund, which grants about $1 million+ to 20 health and human service agencies in the community. So, because of our long-standing funding relationship with those agencies, who are at the front line of COVID-19 response, we decided that it was probably good for us to stand up a platform that would allow one coordinated place for all the people trying to do good things around volunteerism at this time.
What is the purpose of the COS Connect platform?
The Gazette and Gazette Charities were interested in using the platform in our roles as community convener. We’ve highlighted several of the funds related to COVID-19 response on our page, and then beyond that, we’re adding links every day for different nonprofits who call with volunteer opportunities. We are not making the platform project-oriented as much as using it to highlight specific agencies and other nonprofits who do their own volunteer tracking and to send people to their page. We see ourselves as a convener in our community. To put organizations who need help together with people who can help.
The nice thing about VOMO is the platform is very adaptive, so it works for our purposes. We’ll even be able to utilize it in the Fall when we start kicking off our Empty Stocking Fund Campaign. It will be the place where we coordinate all the volunteers who work on that campaign. And given the fact that Gazette Charities Foundation is affiliated with The Gazette, which is the local paper, it gives us a large platform for being that kind of community convener. It’s a good way to spread the word through the community quickly.
How many organizations are affiliated with Gazette Charities, and what are your focus areas?
There are twenty partner agencies that are a part of the campaign and every year they continue to receive a portion of the $1million+ we raise. Beyond that, though, there are another twenty or so nonprofits we make grants to every year.
We focus on four areas: Health and Human Services, Youth and Children, Arts and Culture, and Strategic Community Projects.
What are your hopes for the COS Connect platform?
It really is for it to be a community convener. We want it to be a platform where there is one place for people to go and find out what volunteer opportunities are available, where they can help and become involved.
Is there anything else that you would like for the community-at-large to know about Gazette Charities and COS Connect?
We are committed to supporting the amazing work that’s going on in the community. From the nonprofit sector to the business sector to the philanthropic sector, we’re really about supporting all of those endeavors and collaborating as many ways as we can to move mission forward.
VOMO is the radically simple engagement platform helping organizations do good with great people. If you lead an organization that would benefit from a simplified way to engage volunteers, schedule a demo and one of our representatives can give you a tour of the platform and answer any questions you have.