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Grant Funding and the Great Outdoors: The Missing Link

Securing grant funds for nonprofit organizations in the outdoor sector is immensely challenging in any given year, but especially this year due to COVID-19. This may come as a surprise in Colorado, where it seems like the love for our mountains and outdoor recreation is a universal truth. It also came as a surprise to me when I made a major career change and joined the ZIM team in 2018. After taking on one of my first grant writing clients in the outdoor sector, I realized it wasn’t as easy to find interested funders in Colorado who were well-aligned with the client’s outdoor education and conservation programming as I had anticipated.

Why is this?

To be frank, grant funding in Colorado is an ultra-competitive process. Year after year, Colorado ranks high on the list for the most nonprofit organizations per capita, which is a reflection of a state that cares about using its resources to serve the community. While there are plenty of individual donors who support organizations aligned with their personal interests and values, most nonprofit organizations lean on foundation support to remain sustainable and grow their programs. Most of the largest Colorado-based foundations do not have explicit funding priorities around the outdoors, but instead trend towards basic human needs, mental health, addiction recovery, K-12 educatio