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CAUSE & EFFECT: Do-Overs Can Start with Appreciation

CAUSE & EFFECT: Do-Overs Can Start with Appreciation

I want to bring back the Do-Over. When I was a kid this strategy was effective in many circumstances. An errant ball in a kickball game; no problem just call a Do-Over, the Yahtzee dice fall off the table; re-roll with a Do-Over. Didn’t blow out all the candles on the birthday cake the first time around; re-light and try it again.

A couple of years ago the Foundation brought together a group of regional leaders to work on a project. The meeting didn’t go well from the start and after it was over I felt horrible. I knew there were smart caring people in the room who all were willing to work together but everyone left the meeting frustrated. I could have just let it go, but instead I called a Do-Over meeting. I acknowledged what had gone wrong the first time (mostly my fault) and ask if they would be open to trying again. They were and with some vibrant pre-planning and grace toward our original false start we had a much better result.

Just asking for the Do-Over does not always work. Even in the kid social universe it didn’t always happen. Our friends could sniff out an insincere Do-Over request and it would be denied- usually with a loud and resounding “No Way! – No Do-Overs!” Sometimes second chances work and sometimes they are not appropriate.

I was reminded of the conditions for a sincere and productive Do-Over a few weeks ago when I blew it again in a meeting. Because of a pending deadline I had squeezed an appointment that needed time and attention into a 20-minute window. From the moment the meeting started we felt like we were speed dating on the issue and by the end we both felt upset and frustrated.

My first reaction was negative and I was so out of sorts I pushed back my next meeting and went out to clear my head and run a quick errand. I didn’t want to take my bad vibes into the next encounter.

As I wandered around the drug store I exchanged glances and a smiles with another customer. We kept passing each other and eventually ended up next to each other in line. We didn’t speak to one another but she was intentional about acknowledging me. I remember thinking how friendly she seemed and I was thankful for the positive energy.

When I finished checking out she was waiting outside, and ask if I was Sarah Owen. I almost ran, but caught myself and stopped to talk. She didn’t identify herself, but said she just wanted to thank the Community Foundation for their support of the community. I was stunned. She turned and made her way to her car.

By the time I made my way back to the office I was in a completely different head space. A few intentional words created a Do-Over for my day. I began considering how I could reach out to the person I had met with earlier and reset our conversation. And then I thought about my commitment to showing appreciation to others that serve the community.

Nonprofit organizations do a great job in thanking and appreciating their donors, but do their teams receive a regular and meaningful dose of appreciation for all they do. With over 2,000 nonprofit organizations in our region there are a lot of people dedicating themselves to making our community and our world better.

When was the last time I waited for a nonprofit leader outside a store just to say thank you, or sent them an email, picked up the phone or posted words of gratitude on social media.

Nonprofit teams work with limited resources, lower pay scales and in many cases very stressful working conditions.

The donor dollars distributed by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, 5 million last year are granted to nonprofits who care for children, support the arts, protect the environment, rescue animals, and develop strategies and support for our region’s most pressing problems. Each week in this Causes section nonprofit superstars are highlighted for their visionary work- but how many times have I reached out after reading an article to just say thank-you? Not nearly enough.

Many times these are the very people I need to ask for Do-Over moments. So if I am calling for a Do-Over movement, maybe first I should call for an appreciation movement. Take a moment this week and reach out to a nonprofit you know is doing some great work.

I will get us started. Nonprofit superstars, keep up the great work and thank you for all you do- If I haven’t done a good job showing my appreciation in the past I hope you will grant me a Do-Over.
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. It partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community last year. With assets of $106 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Community Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.

Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.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