Although the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, we differ from other nonprofit organizations in several ways.
First, we are not a provider of services. Other nonprofits specialize in providing certain services or supporting specific causes. Community foundations, however, identify community needs and provide financial and other support to those nonprofits through grant programs.
Second, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is unlike nonprofit organizations that engage in “pass through” funding. An example of this would be the United Way, which, through its various campaigns, raises money and passes it quickly to other nonprofits. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation does not typically do this, but rather helps donors to establish endowed funds that provide grants not just for immediate needs, but also for needs in the future. Endowed funds see to the sustainability of a community well into the future. While there is definitely a need for immediate giving, there is also a need to plan for future needs. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation does both, but our emphasis is on the establishment of endowed funds. (Incidentally, we have partnered with the local United Way on many community projects. Whereas we are different in our approaches, we share some common goals in supporting our local nonprofit sector.)
Finally, as a funder of local nonprofits, the Community Foundation maintains close ties with them, which helps us to “keep our finger on the pulse of” current and future issues that impact our community. We share that information with others and encourage collaboration among organizations to deal with those issues. Our position in the community, then, allows us to serve on a much wider scope than other types on nonprofits.