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CAUSE & EFFECT – 2016 and Beyond

CAUSE & EFFECT – 2016 and Beyond

There is no doubt that a New Year gives us plenty of chances to count things down. It seems to begin right around the week before Christmas when we become somewhat obsessed with the days hours and seconds left to complete holiday shopping and continues on until the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. We love anticipating the moments almost as much as living in them once they arrive.

But no sooner have we counted them down we begin planning ahead or looking for the next new moments. Now that we are officially in 2016 our thoughts turn to resolutions for the year ahead and what is “in” and what is “out” for the next 12 months.

Creating the possibilities for the future is like the countdown in reverse. We are actually planning for our future calendar timers.  In just a few short months we will assess how we carried out our 2016 dreams and aspirations, and begin planning for 2017.

Yes, I just mentioned 2017 in the first week of 2016. Actually I have been thinking quite a bit about 2018, 2019, 2020 and beyond.  Maybe because I am getting older and the calendar countdowns seem to be moving faster these days and it is hard for me to think of events in terms of 12 month boundaries.  Some things just take more time and some things are never meant to be marked complete.

Recently I have been involved in projects that are marathons and not sprints and I am realizing that some countdowns need a longer life span. As much as I am enamored with what new thing will emerge or be accomplished in 2016 and as dedicated as I am to creating measurable goals for my life and work I am also coming to terms with the fact that sometimes our resolutions for a new year must be to stick with what we started in earlier calendars.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation we are passionate about cultivating regional change for the common good. Each year our team commits to working with nonprofits, business, government, advocates, philanthropists and citizens to create a vibrant place to work, play, live and learn.  We are keenly aware of the current needs in our community but we also realize that solutions we are designing now may not come to fruition for many years to come.

That does not mean we don’t see progress on the way to our goals – we can measure, count and celebrate the intermediate outcomes on the way to the big change we are working to create. We are on a journey of continuous improvement no matter the final destination.

I have read with great interest the aspirational articles for the hopes we have for our region in 2016: economic development, a focus on services for mental illness, creating a sustainable region, curbing violence and poverty, optimal health, increase in access and attainment of post-secondary degrees and certifications and water quality.

When I speak with the donors we work with at the Foundation their lists are equally aspirational and thoughtful. Some have earmarked portions of their estates to support these resolutions after they are gone.  They realize the countdown goes on and on.

Resolving something big is the first step to making it happen. Many of the issues we want to address already have coalitions and teams working together collectively.  Healthy Lee has been working for years creating both vision and execution of a healthier community, the newly formed FutureMakers Coalition has a goal that stretches to 2025 to increase post-secondary attainment and create a vibrant workforce, municipalities are creating task forces on curbing violence and grass roots efforts are underway to find solutions for funding streams to address generational poverty.  All these efforts have short term goals that are designed to create lasting long term change.  Just because the calendar changes, the focus doesn’t.  The work goes on and it up to us to not tire of it, become passé or move on to the next new thing.  Our resolution must be to keep going.

So before we leave the prior year behind, let’s see what we need to carry with us into 2016 and beyond. We don’t have to resolve to take on something new but rather to approach our challenges and opportunities with New Year energy and commitment to patience and grit for the longer countdowns.


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. Want to be part? It all starts with a conversation.  Please call (239) 274-5900 or visit

Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More