Crowdfunding Compassion

Guest Correspondence

SRQ Daily columnist Roxie Jerde is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Isn’t it exciting to live in a time when people from around the world have never been more connected? Thanks to advances in technology, smart minds from all walks of life and locations are sharing ideas, opinions, current events and money at an astounding rate.

If you’ve opened up a web browser in the last year or two, it’s hard to miss “crowdfunding” dedicated to charitable endeavors in action—people coming together to make something “big” possible with a collection of smaller donations, making it possible for anyone in the world to feel that they can improve the human condition. A variety of websites and online platforms have opened up for people to contribute to diverse causes—whether they are close to home or somewhere across the globe.

This model especially embraces Millennials and those who have smaller resources to give, while also leveraging social sharing and awareness building as capital. At the heart of it, crowdfunding fuels the “everybody can be a philanthropist” spirit that we love at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County!  

While it’s a beautiful thing that so many people are being connected to multiple causes around the globe through crowdfunding, it can be easy to forget about the needs in our own backyard. Local Giving Days have sprouted up all across the nation to bring the focus back home and still keep the tradition of collective philanthropy alive. Hosted by a local community foundation, these powerful 24-hour online fundraising events unite people to raise money for regional charities, spread awareness about local choices in giving and inspire pride in one’s community.

Crowdfunding opens up exciting new avenues for people to give and learn about interests and causes around the world and at home, but it’s important to keep caution in mind.

There are numerous examples of individuals using crowdfunding to exploit good-willed people, giving birth to the term “crowdfrauding.” These crowdfunding platforms don’t offer true insights into what donors are being asked to support. Trust your instincts when you look for information. As with all forms of well-intentioned giving, making your donation to an organization that values and demonstrates transparency will increase the likelihood your dollars will make a difference.

Unique to our community’s Giving Challenge, each qualifying nonprofit has taken many hours to complete and update a profile in The Giving Partner,, an online tool that helps you understand the programmatic impact of the organization as well as its leadership, financial history, needs and planning priorities.

Over the last three years, local nonprofits serving Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties have raised more than $8 million in our region’s own Giving Challenge. That’s an incredible testament to crowdfunding and to the power of the individual donor. Nearly 70 percent of last year’s gifts were $50 or less.

Mark Sept. 1 and 2 from noon to noon on your calendar and join the community movement! The Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation, with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, have some special ways you can help your favorite causes double their traction.

SRQ Daily columnist Roxie Jerde is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Learn more about The Giving Partner here.

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