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How Do You Fund a Hashtag?

How Do You Fund a Hashtag?

Nobody particularly enjoys the person who comes back to the office after a professional conference. In most cases the colleague has had days to consider new ideas and possibilities, cutting edge technology and meet all kinds of interesting people.

If the conference goes well they are fired up and ready to try not one but all of the ideas they have heard as soon as physically and mentally possible. Meanwhile the rest of the team has been in the normal rhythm of organizational opportunities and challenges.

“What do you mean you want to launch a hot air balloon off the roof and then deploy a drone to deliver our products on Pine Island? I am trying to get our accounts receivable to balance by the end of the month,” is normally how these post conference conversations roll out across cubicles.

Warning to the readers of this column: I have just returned from a statewide conference on the latest trends in philanthropy and the first draft of this missive was jam packed with about 100 new ideas.

The reality is that our world is changing and moving so fast that information and trends can be old or over before they are even shared. This is true of the field of philanthropy as well.

One of the biggest take aways from my conference was the importance of donors and funders realizing fundraising and grantmaking must keep up with the speed of how change is now created in our society.

While we once could spend months researching evolving needs and the specific programs and organizations to address them and provide funding for those efforts, we must now also consider rapidly changing scenarios in our communities and recognize that advocates and nonprofits must possess the ability to adapt and pivot. If the funding is too restrictive to a singular idea we tie the hands of the front line change agents.

A great example is the movements that are born at a grassroots level and have the ability to make things happen at a fast pace without large infrastructures in place. Think social media hashtags. Hashtags aren’t just to update people on what you ate for breakfast or how you feel about a product. Hashtags can now literally change the world. #blacklivesmatter is a great example of how a Twitter hashtag made an important social impact and furthered a movement forward for a good cause.
Another example is #WhyIStayed started in 2014 by a survivor of domestic abuse after she saw the media backlash after Ray Rice, a football player, abused his wife, Janay Rice. She used the #WhyIStayed to change the conversation from victim blaming to supporting victims. Within two days, over 100,000 survivors of domestic assault used the hashtag to relate their own experiences. This hashtag has saved lives and given support to women who desperately need it.

In these cases organizers can’t wait for a grant cycle to open or organize a gala. Instead they need support to seize a moment or the opportunity might pass.

The question posed at the conference was, “How do you fund a hashtag?” but the point was not for us to run home and begin funding hashtags in a post-conference fenzy but rather to contemplate how to more fully explore how and where our resources can make the most impact in the community.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation we continue to customize our giving opportunities so donors can seize opportunities to change the world. If you would like to hear the other 99 ideas I am anxious to share them with someone! Feel free to email me at iamlistening.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

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