Decade of Giving Challenge Highlights Citizen Philanthropists

Guest Correspondence

Image via Pixabay

A decade ago, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s creation of The Giving Challenge marked the beginning of a personal philanthropic journey for many in our region. Never before had the spotlight shined so brightly on the nonprofit organizations working to strengthen the Suncoast — nor on the opportunity we all have to make their efforts and impact possible through generous support.

Beyond the impact of the donations raised by the participating nonprofits, one will find another layer of potential within the Giving Challenge: the power to evolve our notion of what makes a philanthropist. Since the inaugural event in 2012, The Patterson Foundation’s role in the Giving Challenge has been one grounded in joyful stewardship — encouraging our community to discover that potential through catalytic incentives that spark the generosity gene that exists in each of us, regardless of our background, age or means.

All eight iterations of the Giving Challenge have provided the raw materials necessary for people in our region to build their philanthropic muscles. Hundreds of nonprofit organizations have committed to exercising transparency and excellence through maintaining robust profiles on The Giving Partner, our region’s online platform that helps donors make informed decisions about their philanthropic contributions. The ingenious outreach put forth by the participating organizations in the weeks and months leading up to the 24-hour Giving Challenge engages both new and existing donors in ways that drive massive action during the big day while creating connections these organizations can nurture into long-lasting relationships that will further strengthen their operations.

The result of that collaborative commitment to strengthening giving is the resounding revelation of our philanthropic power — evident in the incredible $75 million all-time total generated by the Giving Challenge over the last decade. More than $30 million of that total has come by way of dollar-for-dollar matches and donor incentives from The Patterson Foundation — funds activated solely through the thousands inspired to step up and give.

In the 2022 Giving Challenge alone, more than 46,000 people contributed toward an astounding total of nearly $16 million in just 24 hours. That total includes millions in matching dollars from The Patterson Foundation, provided through a 1:1 match on donations up to $100 per unique donor, per organization, with no cap. Those unrestricted funds will strengthen nearly 700 regional nonprofit organizations in ways that will boost their capacity to do good and their agility to navigate the unexpected — a necessity that has come into even greater focus in recent years.

Such wide participation, especially amid a time of emotional and financial strain for many, shows that giving has become an essential value. While it might not be a new notion, the massive action sparked by the Giving Challenge validates the belief that people receive benefits of equal or even greater measure when they give of themselves to help others. One would need to search far and wide to find a group of people anywhere who have internalized this the way people across the Suncoast have over the last 10 years.

Ours is a region that has grown to thrive on the super-abundance created when people come together to raise the level of humanity. By creating a decade of opportunities for anyone to be a philanthropist, the Giving Challenge has demonstrated the power of people with positivity to create possibilities through philanthropy.

Debra Jacobs is the president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation.

Image via Pixabay

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