Giving Opportunities

Click the button below to see a list of funds at the SWFL Community Foundation that you can donate to. DONATE TO A FUND



A Gentle Purposeful Push

A Gentle Purposeful Push

Whenever my adult kids travel home for the holidays I can count on at least one conversation with each of them on the topic of why I didn’t push them more as children.

“Why did you let me quit… singing, lacrosse, Latin, soccer, karate, and..,” the list goes on.

Sometimes they mention things of which I never knew there was involvement in the first place. My son asked me once why I let him quit the drums and I don’t even remember him playing a musical instrument of any kind.

I used to try to explain how they begged and pleaded to abandon many of their various extra-curricular activities, even faking illness or injury but they just don’t seem to recall that side of the conversation.  In their minds if I just pushed them a bit more they would now be fluent in three languages, painting masterpieces and running marathons.

The rule in our our house was if you signed up for an activity or a team you had to complete one season or session before stepping out.  We wanted to encourage commitment to others and in many cases the more engaged they became in the activity the more they were willing to press through difficult moments and began to enjoy themselves.

Both of my adult children found passions they excelled in and some of them influenced their careers.  They might not have noticed my gentle encouragement as I saw their talents and interests emerging.  The reason I didn’t push them in the other areas was I able to see they really were not interested in taking those talents further.

Sometimes a well-intentioned push or challenge can be what we need to stick with something that is important to us no matter our stage of life.

Last week I had the pleasure to announce a milestone endowment fund at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

It was a $5.4-million-dollar gift made possible by a challenge match initiated by David and Linda Lucas.  The Lucas family is known for their generosity and when the foundation was seeking support for programming in our new Collaboratory and Tech Hub that is under construction in downtown Fort Myers, we knew we needed a visionary philanthropist to walk alongside us with financial support.

The Foundation had secured a partnership with the City of Fort Myers and a $10 million New Market Tax Credit deal to cover the renovation of the historic Atlantic Coast Rail Depot and and an additional 15,000 square foot new addition to create the 3-acre campus on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. But we are just as focused on what will happen inside the new space when it opens in the summer of 2018.

The Collaboratory is designed to bring people, ideas, funding, technology, nonprofits, business, education and government together physically and virtually to solve regional challenges and seize opportunities.  This type of collaboration ecosystem has never been created in our region and we wanted to establish an endowment to support this work.

When David Lucas stepped in he committed $2.5 million.  He came with money and a bit of a push.

He was in for the $2.5 million but he didn’t want to walk the funding journey alone.  In the spirit of the Collaboratory he wanted others to join him.   The gift was an all or nothing match.  He pushed the foundation board and team to raise the other $2.5 million.  It was just the challenge we needed to create the largest endowment established by living donors in our 42-year history.  With his purposeful push we not only met but exceeded the goal.

Mr. Lucas brought leadership, risk taking and just the right challenge to the table.  83 other donors joined him with gifts from $500,000 to $100, and it inspired us all.

Sometimes a gentle purposeful push is all we need, and it sure never hurt anyone, just ask your favorite piano teacher.

About the Southwest Florida Community FoundationThe Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Hendry, Glades, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 430 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested more than $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $115 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $71 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, or call 239-274-5900.





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