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Don’t Forget the Choir

Don’t Forget the Choir

I often describe myself as a delusional optimist, which means I don’t spend a lot of time feeling discouraged. I tend to broker in the world of possibilities and the belief that the impossible is possible. This trait comes in very handy working in the Community Foundation’s world of change making. Creating change in hard in the beginning, messy in the middle and glorious in the end.

There are plenty of moments I am bolstered by encouraging words.  I am surprised by how an uplifting text, a promise to be remembered in a prayer or an inspirational quote can sustain me when things are not going the way I had hoped or planned.

These messages seem to come at just the right moments, and fuel me to take another run at a roadblock or sooth a recent defeat.  People are surprised when I share how much their support and encouragement help me.  I remind them that a positive outlook doesn’t mean I’m not hurting, frustrated, dealing with a failure or just struggling to find a solution.

Sending encouragement to delusional optimists can feel a bit like preaching to the choir. But keeping the choir engaged and motivated is critically important.  Even the strongest choirs can grow weary and need to be reminded of what they were singing about in the first place.

Recently I heard a successful serial entrepreneur share some of his victories and challenges.  He considered one of his greatest failures spending so much time attracting new customers to a successful niche business that he moved too far away from his base.  The new patrons never materialized, and he ended up losing significant revenue from his long-time loyalists because they felt neglected.  In other words, he forgot to keep preaching to his choir.

It was such a poignant reminder that as much as we try to inspire new donors, volunteers and advocates to our charitable causes and organizations, we can never lose sight of those who have already expressed their commitment and passion to be part of our work.  I promise they need your ongoing encouragement.  It’s powerful to create a bigger choir, and new voices from a variety of perspectives is critical for change.  But this is not an either/or proposition.

Look around.  Find your choir, re-engage and reconnect.  Preaching to them is essential right now. Their renewed song will encourage them and inspire others to join you.

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


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