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There’s A Lot I Don’t Know

There’s A Lot I Don’t Know

There’s a lot I don’t know. It seems just at the point in life when I start to feel like I have a handle on 2 or 3 things the universe humbles me.

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit my Bohemian-spirited daughter who is now residing in Amsterdam. I had never been to the canal-laden city so it was a great chance to visit my first-born and learn a bit more about the world beyond Southwest Florida.

Nothing reminds me more of what I don’t know than navigating a new city, particularly when I don’t speak the language or understand the transportation system which in Amsterdam involves buses, trams and hundreds of thousands of bikes.

For the most part my daughter and I travel well together, particularly when I am visiting her in a place in which she is familiar. She enjoys showing me both the tourist sites and the places she frequents as a local.

But there is one big source of contention in our time together. In an effort to alleviate some of the massive humbling amounts of things I don’t know I rely heavily on travel guidebooks. I read them before I leave on a trip, in route to my destination and I keep them at the ready throughout my stay.

My daughter loathes the guidebook. She is a confident free-spirited traveler who has never used the tool I find so valuable. She is much more secure in her lack of knowingness than I am and it causes some strife when we are together.

As we wander the city on an urban hike I often inquire out loud as to what a landmark or point of interest might be. She doesn’t know and I ask permission to dive into my bag to get some answers from my trusty traveling book. Sometimes I am met with an eye roll while other times permission is hesitantly granted.

I cannot tell you the joy I feel at knowing what I am observing and if there are historical facts or stories that accompany the information my satisfaction increases exponentially. On the other hand, my offspring is energized by the unexpected, unplanned secrets of a new place.

Just like all good traveling partners my daughter and I fell into a rhythm of when the guidebooks added to our trip and when it was just best to experience the moment. There is beauty and value in both approaches. Once on this most recent trip we found ourselves in a museum that I had unearthed through my research and she hugged me and thanked me for finding it and on another occasion we found ourselves in a lush park off the beaten path that we just wandered into and I showered her with my gratitude for showing me the best parts of an unplanned journey.

This is the same balance the Southwest Florida Community Foundation wants to strike with our donors and stakeholders. We are on our own journey of sorts helping people navigate the world of giving.

Some are seasoned travelers who have a clear direction of where they are going with their charitable plans but are open to new experiences, while others are a bit more like me landing in Amsterdam for the first time and reaching for a map on their smartphones. I even spoke to a philanthropist last week who only wants me to call when something unexpected happens that they can help with and it reminded me of my daughter’s view on life. We all need help with the things we don’t know.

To that end, the Community Foundation has developed a Guide to Giving (my penchant for guidebooks lives on-don’t tell my daughter) that can help anyone navigate charitable giving in our region. Chapters in the guide include Community Leadership, Your Concierge, Your Fund Your Way, We Make it Easy, Your Stewards, and more.

We also help create philanthropy roadmaps and mission statements through a values and interest card game, and provide information, research and tours to donors who want to explore the causes they care about in Southwest Florida.

For the adventurous we continue to host our Compassionate Shark Tanks and several seasoned donors have added to their giving portfolios when they hear a new idea from a nonprofit they had never known existed.

Still, there’s a lot we don’t know. But like any great trip finding out together is part of the journey as well. And if I am lucky enough to be your field guide, I am definitely bringing a guidebook.

You can download our Guide to Giving on our website, or just email me at [email protected] and I will send one to you in the mail. Then we can compare notes.

About the SWFL 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 $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit

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