Giving Opportunities

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Philanthropists can be the guy or gal next door

Philanthropists can be the guy or gal next door

I knew it wasn’t going to be an ordinary day last week when I reviewed my calendar for the Tuesday’s activities.  Lunch in Bonita with the Robertshaws is hardly considered work.  Darren is on our board of trustees of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, and a big supporter of all things Bonita.  His wife and partner Stacy is a hard worker in their business and in the Bonita Springs community too.

They are young, athletic and excited about their business and their volunteer work. It’s evident upon meeting them in their nicely appointed, extremely clean hotel conference center that they are achievers.  Turns out that this adorable couple is also active internationally competing in triathlons – real ones – Ironman types, and they’re in peak physical shape.  You’d never believe them to be grandparents two times over.  It was that day that I realized the tables have turned now that I am working on estate plans with people younger than I.

That’s right.  These young, local business owners and caring citizens are planning their estate so that when they’re gone from this earth, they can continue to make a difference in things they care about in our community.  They are joining the hundreds of legacy society members at the Community Foundation who are planning now to leave a percentage of their estate to their fund at the community foundation after taking care of their heirs.

Now, no offense here, because I am in this “club,” I just always thought of our legacy society as older, retired, successful people with gray hair and retirement savings and stock portfolios.  I left our meeting thinking we need to rename our Legacy Society to “Movers and Shakers!”

Our lunch meeting on Tuesday was also about how they want to start saving and giving now.  Our agenda: establishing a Donor Advised Fund so that they can start giving to area nonprofits out of their charitable fund now to support the causes and organizations that they care about deeply.

It is something we say every day at the Foundation – we are the YES Foundation.  We find all kinds of ways to foster philanthropy here.  Whatever a donor’s goal, we can customize a fund, or giving plan to accomplish that to match their values.  The answer is YES.

I was able to show the Robertshaws how their gift can come in any shape, a credit card transaction, a check, gift of appreciated stock, and more, plus you can add to it or make grants out of it any time.  They can also opt to leave the money in their fund to grow (we’ve had some great growth from investments).  And, they won’t have to collect those charitable receipts from various nonprofits because we do that for them, they take the deduction once with their contribution to their fund.  Another bonus, if they ever want a donation to go anonymously, their fund need not be mentioned when the check is sent.

Setting up the fund was so easy.  Deciding on the delicious menu choices at the Lake House Bar & Grill at their Trianon Hotel was much more difficult.

As we wrapped up, I saw a twinkle in Stacy’s eye. It was really fun for all of us establishing the Darren and Stacy Robertshaw Fund at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.  She didn’t say much but she almost whispered, “you have no idea how great this is.”  At that cue I suspected she grew up much like most philanthropists, thinking they could never give away money or perhaps she may have even benefited from someone else’s generosity at some point in her life.

Whatever the reason, it made for more than an ordinary day highlighted by these extraordinary people.

If you’re interested in being a “mover and shaker” too, please contact me at [email protected], or give me a call at 239-274-5900.

Founded in 1976, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation supports the communities of Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry counties and also acts as the regional convener and leader with firsthand knowledge of community needs. With assets of more than $80 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $57 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, the Foundation granted more than $4 million to more than 100 different organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, including more than $400,000 in regional community impact grants and $450,000 in scholarship grants.

For more information, visit the Community Foundation’s website at or call 239-274-5900.


Carolyn Rogers
Carolyn Rogers