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Cause & Effect

Cause & Effect

We all have our favorite sections in the paper. At my house, in the pre-digital days, reading the paper on the weekends meant serious negotiations for first dibs on the sports and local pages. Sometimes, whoever woke up first and made the dash to the driveway was able to snag his or her section of choice before anyone else could lay eyes on it. Now with tablets, smartphones and laptops, the competition has ceased, and we all sleep in a bit later.

Still, I have to admit that on Monday mornings, I rush to our team room at the Foundation office in order to snag the News-Press Causes section from the paper we have delivered daily. Normally, if I am not the first one in, I have to circle the office a few times to find the coveted section, and if I am out, it never fails that I will receive links to some of the featured stories or photos. I have even have donors call me to find out how they can be featured in “Why I Give.”

When you work in community advocacy and philanthropy, the Causes section serves as a road map for much of the good that is happening in our region. Each week, I read with interest the stories of organizations and the individuals who lead and support them, but the section offers more than interesting anecdotes; it also serves as a call to action to get involved. As the reader learns about the various causes in our community, he or she is given the opportunity to reach out and help.

The only thing that leaves me wondering is what happens next, or where does the story go after compassionate people get involved? Those are the stories I love to hear and tell. As the team leader of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, I have an amazing vantage point to see generous people in action. Not only do I see the impact of their gifts, but I also have the great honor of hearing their backstories. I often find myself thinking, “I wish everyone could hear these amazing journals of giving,” When I read the compelling stories in Causes, I am always wondering what happens next? What is the rest of the story?  Which regional nonprofit agencies can help with the cause or specific needs?

Every philanthropist, donor, contributor, champion and advocate has a story. Many times, the first we hear of their stories is at the moment of a large gift donation or heroic act of kindness, and we eventually hear about them, or read about them in the Causes section each week. It is easy for us to believe that their story began when we learned of their action, but the reality is in most cases, their lives had been weaving the narratives of their giving long before then.

I chose Cause & Effect as the theme for this column because it is a concept that the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is embracing as it moves into the future of philanthropy in our region. What actions can we take individually, corporately and collectively to create regional change for common good? It is also going to give me a great opportunity to find out more about what effect generous Southwest Florida residents are experiencing on the issues facing our region when they are willing to get involved.  It also gives me the opportunity to further witness the work of nonprofit agencies in our region.

The possibilities are endless. What begins with a single idea, passion or fire burning inside someone to create change in our region can grow into a movement, initiative or vehicle for change. I will try to tell those stories here each month.

If you have a story of Cause & Effect in our community, I would love to hear from you – email me at [email protected] Together, we can tell the rest of the story.

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has been supporting the communities of Lee, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, and Collier counties since 1976. With assets over $72 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $57 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. For more information, please call 274-5900, or visit our web site at 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