Five New Year's Resolutions for 2017 Philanthropy

Guest Correspondence

BY ROXIE JERDE SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY JAN 7, 2017

Each one of us has the potential to impact a person, a cause, a community, and this year you can be the one to make a difference. With a new year comes the excitement of new possibilities, including the opportunity to further the ways you give back to our community that you love!

Here are five resolutions for 2017 to help you have the most impact, getting that joyous feeling from giving when it feels just right and knowing that your gifts are truly making a difference.

  1. Drive your philanthropy with your head, as well as your heart. We are grateful to live in a region where there are so many organizations doing good for the community. However, with so many inspiring stories and appeals tugging at our heartstrings, it can be hard to ensure that you are making the right choice deciding where you are directing your time, talent or treasure. Know which organizations are making a difference in the causes you care about, how they are different and whether their programs and services are really making a difference. The Giving Partner is a great resource to learn about more than 600 hundred local nonprofit organizations in our region.
  2. Engage the next generation. Recent reports have shown that the millennial generation is beginning to outspend baby boomers for the first time. While this is great for the economy, think about what it means for philanthropy. There is a new source for talent, ideas and driving change. If you have young people in your family, sharing the joy of giving or the power of volunteering can be an enriching experience that brings you closer to each other, as well as grow the culture of philanthropy. If you are a nonprofit, community or business leader, mentor a young person, think about offering internships or invite them to serve on your board to pass on your expertise and passions; odds are you will learn something new yourself.
  3. Get involved in bigger movements. For several generations, foundations stayed quiet when it came to the general public. Many think of them as just a source for grants, but as the information age has grown, we are just as much about knowledge, innovation and public awareness as we are about dollars. We are fortunate to have a network of community and private foundations here that are spearheading a number of regional initiatives, powered by smart, creative people and organizations. If you are interested in bigger and bolder things, I urge you to reach out and get involved in them. The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading—a collaborative effort to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for life—is just one example. Learn more at www.gradelevelreadingsuncoast.net.
  4. Celebrate community philanthropy. Philanthropy is not exclusive, it’s for everyone. Thanks to a number of advances in technology, collective giving is more effective than ever and people are able to come together to make something “big” possible through the power of many. With donations from $5 to $5000, a number of local movements have inspired the notion that everyone can be a philanthropist, such as the Community Foundation’s Giving Challenge and Season of Sharing which have both seen millions of dollars raised from thousands of local individuals to make so much good happen right here in our community. Giving circles, when individuals come together to pool their philanthropic funds, learn from each other and ultimately make a greater impact, are growing. One of the several giving circles we have at the Community Foundation is the Masala Giving Circle, formed by a diverse group of professional African-American women with a common passion for giving back, helping others, and creating positive change in the African-American community of Sarasota and Manatee counties. I attended their holiday gathering and new member recruitment event and continue to be inspired by their smarts, organization and impact. The best part is, they have fun.
  5. Believe that no act of goodwill is too small. As we embark into the New Year, please remember that no act of kindness is ever wasted. Never lose sight of familiar acts of caring that can mean a lot—checking on your housebound neighbors, being a thoughtful driver in our season’s traffic, holding the door for a stranger, giving a friend a hug and sharing a smile.

Please join me in adopting one or more of these resolutions and enhancing our community’s already vibrant philanthropic spirit. You truly can be the one to make our community and region an even better place to live.

Roxie Jerde is president of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

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