An Outpouring of Generosity

Guest Correspondence


It’s hard to believe that in just 24 hours our region was truly transformed by generosity during the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s Giving Challenge on September 20 and 21. During that magical time, members of our community gave more than 63,000 gifts to support over 550 local nonprofits serving Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties.

This outpouring of generosity almost doubled last year’s record, where more than $7 million was raised in the same 24 hours, but this year we had extra help. To strengthen the giving, The Patterson Foundation matched new donors 2:1 up to $100 per organization and returning donors 1:1 also up to $100 per organization. The Patterson Foundation’s generosity was the catalyst for the amazing total of $13.4 million dollars raised that will be invested back into our community to empower our nonprofit organizations to continue the good work they are doing. Manatee Community Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation and the Herald-Tribune Media Group also partnered with us to provide various prizes and incentives for nonprofits to come up with effective and creative Giving Challenge campaigns to inspire donors.

While these numbers make great headlines, the impact of the Giving Challenge goes beyond the dollars. Thanks to this opportunity, local nonprofits had the chance to build on existing donor relationships, and cultivate new ones. For the months leading up to the Challenge, it allowed them to come together as an organization, pull their board, staff, and volunteers together for an “all hands on deck, full steam ahead” approach to increase their capacity and make the most out of this almost too-good-to-be-true opportunity to raise unrestricted funding and matching dollars from The Patterson Foundation. In some cases, organizations partnered together to maximize their impact and outreach. 

Donors also benefitted from the opportunity. Not only did they have the guarantee that their donations would be doubled or even tripled, but our community had the chance to learn more about the organizations that are making our region a better place. Donors could also put a magnifying glass on the nonprofits they wanted to support by researching detailed information on a nonprofit’s governance, leadership, programs, needs, and financial information using The Giving Partner, an online, local resource free and open to the public to use 365 days out of the year. 

This year’s challenge also mirrored the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s theme of “Be the One.” This theme was inspired by the Community Foundation’s belief that each and every person has the potential to impact another person, a cause or community and truly tugged at the heartstrings of so many donors who believed they could be the one to make a difference during the Challenge. With the average gift being $90 and half of the more than 63,000 gifts being $50 or less, the Challenge proved to be an inclusive opportunity for everyone in our community to become a philanthropist, no matter their capacity to give.  

While the buzz of those 24 hours is slowly waning, the movement is not over. The difference this unrestricted funding will make for these organizations and those working right on the front lines of change will amplify over time. As foundations and local nonprofits take a larger role in defining a sense of community, belonging, direction, and higher purpose for their region’s citizens, the Giving Challenge has become an essential opportunity to spread the spirit of generosity in our community.  Follow the dollars contributed and be on the lookout for the stories and impact that will come out of the outpouring of generosity by our community. We truly thank everyone who took the opportunity to be the one to make a difference!  Aren’t we fortunate to call this amazing community home?

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of The Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

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