Giving Opportunities

Click the button below to see a list of funds at the SWFL Community Foundation that you can donate to. DONATE TO A FUND



Little i for Big Ideas

Little i for Big Ideas

It is tough for me to admit but in a moment of weakness I succumbed to the little i.  Ever since iPods, iPhones and iPads have come into our world, the little i has come to represent something innovative. For years I have resisted the urge to put that lowercase letter in front of projects or program names.  It seemed like the easy way out of trying to come up with an original name for a creative endeavor.

But a few months ago the team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation was working on developing a name for a region wide gathering for nonprofit leaders.  The goal of the event was to introduce them to our new grant process and to hear their take on solving issues in our communities.  We selected a location known for innovation, Arthrex in Naples and we thought long and hard about how to make the day inspiring and interesting.

What we were lacking was a name.  I wish I had taken a photo of the white board we used for our brainstorming session, but it might make you wonder how some of our minds work.  In the end we decided what we wanted was a name that represented both the space and time we were trying to create for the nonprofits to generate ideas together, so we settled on Idea Lab.  We could have stopped there, but instead we garnered the power of the little i. We landed on iLab 2014.

Our promotional communications and presentations were emblazoned with the trendy verbiage and I was excited about the day.  I thought that a room full of brilliant minds was deserving of the moniker of the little i and all it represented.  I was right.

Nonprofit leaders, local philanthropists and our Foundation team spent the day taking ideas from design to presentations.  Leaders from across the region working in diverse sectors of the nonprofit world brought their unique perspectives to create solutions for local issues. It is a model that we plan to replicate as we partner with organizations that are seeking funding.

The iLab also launched our Community Impact Grant Cycle and we asked nonprofits to submit letters of ideas their organizations would like to see funded.  They had two weeks to develop their concepts and last week I had the great pleasure of reviewing 86 interesting and innovative solutions to some of our region’s most pressing problems. Over the next few weeks the some of these ideas will be presented to funders that have the resources to bring the social innovations to life.

I realize that it wasn’t the power of the little i that generated these big ideas, but rather the ingenuity of community and their desire to see regional change for the common good.  If I was going to use the little i I can’t think of a more fitting occasion.

If you were not able to join us for iLab 2014 but have an idea you would like to share with the Foundation, I would love to hear from you at [email protected],  that is “I am listening” with a little i.


The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has been supporting the communities of Lee, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, and Collier counties since 1976. With assets over $77 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $60 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. For more information, please call 274-5900, or visit our web site at


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