04 Feb CAUSE & EFFECT: 480 Love Letters to the Community, and Counting
Talking and writing about generosity and philanthropy in the month associated with love should come easy. By definition philanthropy is the love of humanity, and maybe that is all that needs to be said or penned on the topic.
Musings on love go back to the beginning of time as expressed through song, poetry, valentines and letters. How many of us have love notes bundled, boxed, tied with ribbon and stored for safe keeping? It feels good to revisit words of affirmation and affection.
But giving puts words into action. The commodity of philanthropy is love.
We have the tendency to speak of charitable acts in the language of dollars and cents. Pick up or tune into any media source the day after a fundraising event and the success of the soirée is reported in money raised. What if there was a way to translate that into units of love expressed?
Last month I had the opportunity to spend a few evenings with hundreds of Southwest Florida Community Foundation fundholders. Philanthropists that have established giving vehicles to shower love on the community. Some of their gifts are making an impact on issues facing the community now, while others will activate after they are gone, pointed toward the causes that are near and dear to their hearts for perpetuity.
As I stood in one corner of the room, taking in those who had gathered I was humbled to consider what had been made possible as result of their generosity. Last year alone:
-animals were rescued
-families had been fed
-people and businesses impacted by the water crisis were supported
-children with autism expressed themselves through art
-students went to technical college and universities to pursue certifications and degrees
-mangroves destroyed by Hurricane Irma were replanted
-grieving children found a safe haven of support
-seniors had safe havens of care
-and so much more
Most every fund no matter its size had created an act of love for humanity.
480 funds creating change, translate into 480 love letters to our region and beyond. I don’t think I will ever see them as agreements again, rather I will envision them bound in ribbon, tucked safely away and pulled out regularly to remind us there is good in the world.
About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The 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 Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $6.8 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $78.2 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. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com