Investing in Incredible Nonprofit Partners

Gulf Coast

BY MARK PRITCHETT SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY APR 16, 2016

We got some nice feedback from a friend who took part in a Gulf Coast training last week; Linda Craig runs Manasota Operation Troop Support, a grassroots group that provides care packages and more for deployed military troops with ties to our region. She joined 24 other nonprofit staffers to learn more about GulfCoastGood.org, our web portal for funding small charity projects and recruiting volunteers.

Linda uses Gulf Coast Gives—the fundraising side of the site—about as well as anyone. MOTS has seen 44 of its projects funded to date. Heck, I’ve probably donated to half of them, they’re that compelling! So we already knew she appreciated the online tool.

But her note told a deeper story. Besides jotting down some fresh fundraising ideas inspired by conversations in the room, she formed new bonds with folks who do very different but equally important work. “I connected with two ladies,” she wrote, “who are interested in having their retired military spouses come to a packing party and see if they’d like to volunteer for MOTS!” Linda thrived on the camaraderie and energy of the greater group. “I work alone most of the time,” she shared, “and I feed off of new ‘brain candy,’ as I call it.”

Well, we feed off of the dedication and impact of partners like those 25 people at our training. For years, we’ve said that so much of what we do at Gulf Coast is possible only through our nonprofit partners. They’re the ones providing important services or artistic excellence. Our role is to build a solid foundation of funding, strategy and leverage for that good work.

We just heard from another friend about progress in helping local teens who have no homes or family support yet still manage to make it to school each day. Some of these “unaccompanied youths” have lived under bridges, or worse, but thanks to their own resilience and a caring network of community services, many are moving toward high school graduation and even college beyond.

Our friend Linda said that whenever she meets with a colleague who works directly with those homeless teens, “it warms my little heart. She whips out her cell phone, and there are 80 kids who she checks on and texts with on a regular basis.” It’s that tenacious support—being there for those kids like no one has before—that’s helping them transform their young lives.

Gulf Coast has high expectations of our community’s nonprofits because we have such high aspirations for our nonprofit community. There are incredible agencies to invest in here. If you agree and have the means, we have the ways. Visit GulfCoastGood.org to see how you can give (time or money) to a cause that moves you. Talk to our staff if you’re interested in making an even bigger difference in the work of local nonprofits, or go straight to the source (of good) and visit an agency that has helped you or is helping to create the kind of world you want to live in. Those are community investments worth making.

Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

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