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Calling All Idea Chasers

Calling All Idea Chasers

I have always been fascinated by storm chasers. They seem to be a special breed that load up into cargo vans outfitted with all kinds of scientific equipment and chase down nature in its most disruptive state. They head toward things that most of us would avoid at all cost. I am sure they have a thrill seeker gene, but they have directed that impulse to science and finding answers to mysteries of the havoc that can be created in the natural world.

They choose to chase storms, but they are unique only in what they are seeking. I think we all chase something. Lately at the office I have been considering what our team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation chases. Some might think we are always seeking new streams of funding to be able to do more work in the community, but that is not the case.

Yes, we seek out funding, but what we are really chasing or pursuing on a day to day basis is ideas and solutions. Funding certainly powers the best of the ideas but we can’t start there if we are to be strategic, efficient and effective. We spend a good deal of time and energy gathering data, insights and information that we think could make Southwest Florida a better community for our neighbors.

Working closely with idea generators is a great strategy for us. We seek out others with ideas – donors, philanthropists, businesses, policy makers, educators, citizens and nonprofits – and bring them around a common table to share their thinking and resources. Believe me, there are an abundance of ideas out there waiting to be realized, and we have platforms and opportunities to hear those. We have developed a robust and thoughtful grant process, roundtables and idea labs (we are such chasers, that we actually created labs to generate this kind of thinking!).

Just like the storm chasers who are thrilled to find a F5 tornado heading right toward them, we get excited about innovative ideas to make our region better, but we also think about the ideas we haven’t heard yet. As Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple was fond of saying, we are looking for the people who want to put a “ding in the universe”.

Recently our team realized that we were hearing most of ideas from the same groups of people, or rather people from the same generation. Community Foundations seem to attract the baby boomers and those from the “greatest generation” because those are the folks most likely to be thinking about estate planning and opening up funds that will impact the community after they are gone.
But we were growing concerned that we were not chasing the ideas of the Next Gens. They are smart and savvy and the future of our region. We wanted to hear from them but were not exactly sure how to connect.

We are fortunate to have several Next Geners on our team to help guide us. Knowing that a group of very well meaning baby boomer idea chasers could not descend on the Next Gen scene we sought out a group of knowledgeable Next Gen idea chasers at Florida Next Foundation.

We are excited about our partnership with Florida Next to help us uncover innovative social solutions and ideas in Southwest Florida to make our region better.

Florida Next Foundation, a nonpartisan, 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, works to empower young people, entrepreneurs and small businesses so they can drive the innovation needed to enhance Florida’s economy and quality of life. Their proverbial idea chasing cargo van comes by way of events called Impact Forums. The Forums are held all over the state and create a venue for Next Geners to pitch solutions and ideas to make their community better. The idea chasers in the audience vote on the top three ideas and then Florida Next assists the originators of the ideas in executing their plan–from planning, to website and graphic design, through funding – they help at every step.

On November 5th, Florida Next in cooperation with Gulfshore Life & Gulfshore Business and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation will be holding an Impact Forum that should attract idea pitchers and idea chasers from Hendry to Collier counties.

If you are a Next Gener by age or in spirit- and an idea chaser at heart, then register at the link below and load up your van. The impact forum will be held at the Silver Spot Theatres at the Mercato in Naples. Check it out at www.FloridaNext.org.

I can’t wait to see what ideas we can chase and realize together. Please don’t chase me, I can easily be reached at [email protected]

 

image from engaginglifeandleadership.com

 

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