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The New Tribes of Southwest Florida

The New Tribes of Southwest Florida

Have you heard anything about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s “tribes”? Maybe the thought of it gave you pause or made you think “what does that mean?” Tribes, as we consider them, are groups of people who share a passion and gather together around that passion — paying respect to the tribes of the past and seeking to connect the tribes of the future. Dr. Dave Fleming, the Foundations’ Chief Strategy Officer, guides our learning with the tribes through his research and development of the concept of Tribal Alchemy – turning lesser into better with the raw materials of change.

Our tribes share a passion for regional change. The members are our grantees who work in nonprofits and other agencies to make things better for our community – for children, animals, and neighborhoods. We bring together these passionate people to build a stronger understanding of our region and the positive change it needs.

Many nonprofits and service providers in our area gather together occasionally to share updates and ideas, but many others are isolated in their work – in siloes. We believe that this isolated work is a hardship for nonprofits and does not lead to sustained regional change. This is why we support and develop the connections between nonprofits by giving them space to thrive together and reflect on their work. We ask the leadership of our nonprofit grantees to set aside time each month for “tribe meetings.”

Our work with the tribes is always dynamic, responding to our grantee partners and our regional community. Sometimes the tribes are small and issue-focused. Sometimes they are more inclusive. Sometimes they coalesce around a particular goal or program. The Foundation acts as facilitator to help the tribes come together in meaningful ways and to be better from the experience.

Our grantee tribes follow a path together. They share the challenges and opportunities they encounter. They creatively reflect on their work and discuss innovative solutions to common challenges.  We encourage open dialogue on missed opportunities, so we can fail forward. The tribe gatherings bring together leaders to strategically think on their programs – a rare opportunity in the bustle of everyday nonprofits. The Foundation also uses the tribes to provide support to nonprofits, particularly in the areas of leadership development, evaluation, and sustainability, something that is often financially out of reach for small nonprofits.

The tribes function on another level as well. They build the networks of nonprofits. These networks can be called on later to access resources and collaborate around bigger issues. What does this ultimately mean? Less cost and more change – pretty important things for nonprofit organizations and our community!

The Foundation benefits from the tribes as well. Our understanding of the work our grantee partners do in the community grows through the interactions during the tribe meetings, regular coaching sessions, and visits. This makes us better informed on our community and helps us provide tailored support to our grantees so they can make change in our region – real outcomes.

We are happy to be a part of the new tribes of Southwest Florida, as we learn and share together on this journey of regional change.   Do you have a cause that you care about deeply?  Check out our website and tell us which one is most important to you at and go to the SOLVE page.  We want to know!  Or email Cindy at [email protected]


Cindy Banyai
Cindy Banyai