SHERIDAN — The Fort Collins Foothills Rotary club found a way to promote local businesses, support local charities and award local beer connoisseurs while simultaneously fundraising for themselves through one simple application — Donor Trail. Sheridan’s local Rotary club bought into the idea and created a trail for Sheridan County, which officially opens for “walkers” July 1.
The Sheridan Pub Trail developed from a visit to a training in Denver by Sheridan Rotary Club President-elect Pete Olson. During the president-elect training, Fort Collins Foothills Rotary Club presented its fundraiser called Donor Trail.
The smartphone application allows consumers to visit brew pubs around Fort Collins and receive discounts at nearly every stop on the map.
Initially, though, “walkers” make a $20 donation to a charity of their choosing from a list provided by the local Rotary club.
The donation is then broken into two sectors: $13 goes directly to the charity of choice and the remaining $7 goes back into the administration of the app and website, run by Fort Collins Foothills Rotary Club. It gained enough traction that they hired people specifically to maintain the application.
Walkers on the Sheridan Pub Trail may choose to give their donation to Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns, The Food Group, Big Brothers Big Sisters Sheridan branch, Sheridan Rotary Club or split it equally among all.
The main objective of Rotarians in bringing the idea to Sheridan was to keep a hyper-local focus for donations.
“Sheridan Rotary gives out about $7,000 a year to local charities, so by donating to the foundation (through the app), that money again stays local in Sheridan,” Sheridan Rotary Club treasurer Terry Weitzel said.
The idea reflects the concept of a traditional pub crawl, but instead of promoting binge drinking, the application encourages incentives to be earned over the course of a year.
“We’re not promoting drinking and all that,” Weitzel said. “It’s more about raising money for local charities.”
While the charities benefit, so do local businesses. Eighteen local pubs throughout Sheridan County agreed to participate and likewise chose to give back to patrons participating in the trail walk by providing discounts for visiting.
As an incentive to complete the entirety of the trail, walkers earn a bottle opener after 10 visits and may redeem the earned prize at Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce. If walkers visit all 18 locations, they may return to the Chamber and receive a Sheridan Pub Trail commemorative glass.
Without giving a donation at all, the app still serves the purpose of a tourism draw by providing a map of the 18 participating pubs along with information about each location and directions specific to the user’s location at that moment in time.
Typically, Sheridan Rotary Club members host fundraisers throughout the year and then distribute the funds to local charities. By starting the app, Rotarians were hopeful to keep perpetuating funds for local charities without having to host as many fundraisers.
“This way, it’s fun and we’re hoping it’s going to be on automatic pilot on raising money,” current club President Dave Alden said. “All we have to do is keep on promoting it, so we don’t have to have an event.”
The club also allows walkers to gift the experience to others by purchasing a $20 gift card through a local Rotarian.
Before launching the product in Sheridan, Olson and collegues went through a fact-finding process to see if the idea would translate well in Sheridan. With the official app set to launch Sunday, only time will tell. Until then, Sheridan Pub Trail committee members are already thinking of how to improve and expand the experience next year. The club hopes to rotate charities and add additional pubs to the list.