Giving in Times of Crisis and Beyond

Guest Correspondence

BY ROXIE JERDE SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY APR 4, 2020

In times of crisis, communities come together in many different ways. Our government agencies offer relief and emergency support. Business leaders advocate for and drive economic relief. And, many of us want to help our neighbors, which often results in a surge of charitable giving. Philanthropy adds another layer of care to augment responses for immediate action, short-term relief and to prepare for longer-term recovery. As a community foundation, we exist first and foremost to serve our community, especially in times of critical need.

We know the need is going to be unprecedented with situations we can't even imagine yet. That is why as an initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has quickly reactivated its time-tested and trusted Season of Sharing community-wide partnership to be prepared to help the most vulnerable with immediate basic needs such as payments for rent, utilities, and childcare.

As a longtime partner and supporter of the campaign, The Patterson Foundation has committed up to $1 million to strengthen this vital reactivation, including an immediate $500,000 contribution along with an additional dollar-for-dollar match up to $500,000 for all gifts made to Season of Sharing during this time. Thanks to our generous community, we have already seen an outpouring of support. When the match is fulfilled by the community, there will be $1.5 million more in additional funds.

Even in ordinary times, Season of Sharing is a vital safety net for those on the verge of homelessness and losing stability. Season of Sharing and its network of more than 60 nonprofit partners have the experience, knowledge and trust to be able to help those who will be served through the fund. As one of several strategic responses available to assist our community, Season of Sharing provides us a great starting point and calls on the key ingredient of any community’s success: collaboration.

Now is the time as a community to focus on what is possible, and we all have an opportunity to consider how we can offer solutions.

This solutions-oriented mindset also applies to local nonprofit organizations. As COVID-19 has uprooted traditional sources of income and fundraising, nonprofits partners look to philanthropy as a bond of dependability, with the resources and means to create and strengthen these strategies.

As another way to support organizations on the frontlines, we have continued several long-standing grant opportunities to enhance the wellbeing and resiliency of grantees, including a healthcare grant through the James Franklin Warnell & Dorothy J. Warnell Fund, and a rolling application cycle for “Community Impact Grants,” offered to assist nonprofits with addressing critical needs.

Another opportunity to strengthen our nonprofit community is the 2020 Giving Challenge, a 24-hour giving event returning April 28-29 that connects donors with nearly 700 nonprofits to support a diversity of causes. As one of several grant-funding tools available to help with our community’s response, the unrestricted funds raised during the Giving Challenge provide nonprofits the flexibility to respond to community needs, especially as those needs evolve.

In moments like this, philanthropy can truly shine. The future is unknown, and it likely won't be easy in the short-term, but it is up to us to ensure our community remains healthy, resilient, and united so that we all can thrive and realize our full potential. Together.

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota.

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