by Taylor Tringali, 2016 Florida Fellow, Southwest Florida Community Foundation
In the eight short weeks of my fellowship with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, I have been immersed into the world of non-profits and the people who work so hard to positively impact their local communities. Working with the Alliance for the Arts has taught me how the work they do fits into the larger picture of the community. This list is only limited to four things, but it could really go on and on. Though most of my knowledge is through the Alliance, I have a feeling all non-profits will relate.
- Non-profit workers are passionate, and I mean genuinely-love-what-they-do kind of passion. I’ve learned that it takes a special person with an extraordinary passion in life to work at a non-profit. These people understand that the work they do isn’t just about them, and that it’s much bigger than that. They see the bigger picture, a better community, and they strive toward that bigger picture every day.
- No one is the same. In my first week at the Alliance, I met with each team member to learn a little about them. We discussed what their job entailed and how they came to the Alliance, and it’s kind of incredible how diverse each of their paths were leading there. Their lives varied from artist, to radio host, to teacher, to campaign fundraiser before they landed at the Alliance. That’s what makes non-profits so unique; employees and volunteers come from all different places in their lives and they use their own perspective to make a lasting impact.
- Non-profits make every penny count. The Economic Impact Study, funded by a grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, was one of my tasks as a fellow and it required the Alliance to complete a Cultural Data Profile. It was an extremely long and tedious survey with lots of numbers and references to our Profit and Loss and balance sheets. Not only did I learn what a Profit and Loss statement was, I also learned that non-profits learn to do a lot with a little. While faced with funding challenges, they continue to expand and keep up with the demands of their evolving communities, which is impressive.
- No impact is too small. This is one of the more prominent things that have been brought to my attention about the non-profit world. The small day-to-day interactions between staff and their patrons are sometimes seemingly insignificant but the lasting effect is so important. Seeing a kid laugh and create while he paints stage props at summer camp influences the community just as much as hosting a political forum for a local organization.
In the context of a chaotic world, people genuinely love their jobs and what they do for people. Doing something good in struggling communities no matter the issue at hand fuels them to do better. Now I understand through first-hand experience how vital non-profits are to us and how our communities would lack resources, vitality, and positivity if it weren’t for these organizations.
Taylor is a rising senior at the University of Florida. In its second year, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is partnering with University of Florida’s public interest communication program with the 2016 Florida Fellows. Funded by a donor who is supporting the paid summer fellowships for PR students, the Community Foundation embedded these students into nonprofit organizations the foundation has funded this past year in a continued effort to support the nonprofit, to provide the organization with resources and greater assistance in developing the organization’s messaging and storytelling.
About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.