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I’m Back

I’m Back

I’m back. Not that I have been gone on an extended holiday but over the summer months the team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation turned over this column to local nonprofits so we could all learn more about their work in our region.

If you are a regular reader of this column then you know it is a place where stories are told and conversations are started about issues in Southwest Florida.

At the Foundation we walk alongside nonprofit grantees all year long and have the opportunity to hear many amazing stories about their work and the change they are creating in our communities. But sometimes I worry that not enough people are hearing what we’re hearing.

Good stories about good work need a platform. A few months ago I heard that “doing good is the new cool,” and if that is the case we have some of the coolest people ever in Southwest Florida.

This summer we wanted to be sure some of these cool customers had the opportunity to share their stories with you. If you missed some of the summer narratives penned by local nonprofit leaders in this space you can find them all on our website at They are a great read anytime of the year.

But because my name and little square photo have not been in the byline for the past several months, a few people have asked where I’ve been. They weren’t asking about my personal whereabouts but rather about the Foundation’s column. I realized that both longtime Foundation stakeholders as well as people hearing about us for the first time connect with the community through this column. Not to mention I tell some pretty embarrassing stories about myself in this space. My family is continually mortified at the lengths I will go to in order to tell the story.

Storytelling is a big part of the way organizations can share the impact of their work and inspire others to get involved. It is a vehicle to engage and inspire people to create change. The private sector has used this form of communication around branding and marketing very effectively and in the social sector we are beginning to see a greater focus on effectively telling a story to create more effective change.

At the Foundation we want to support and equip our local non-profits to be great storytellers about their work and help them discover the best platforms for those stories. Last year we worked with the organizations we funded to provide training at the University of Florida in public interest communication (that’s the buzzword for what I am talking about here) and several SWFL nonprofits hosted interns from UF over the summer to develop a more vibrant communications strategy that included storytelling.

So yes, I’m back to tell stories, which is the easiest job in the world when you have so many incredible subjects. What I write about here are the community stories that each of you create through community philanthropy and a giving spirit.

You keep doing amazing things, cool people, and we will keep using this space to tell your stories and sometime in the coming year we will let you tell them yourselves.

In the meantime, if you want to share a special story with me, please contact me at [email protected]

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 $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, 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