01 Feb Southwest Florida siblings open fund to help future generations
The next generation of philanthropists, those who fit into “Gen X” (born 1964-1980) or “Gen Y/Millennial” (born 1981-2000), will wield more philanthropic power than any previous generation, according to Nextgendonors.org. In 2014, 84 percent of millennials made a charitable donation.
The Devisse family of siblings, who grew up in Naples, is a prime example of this giving.
Brothers Marc, Matt and Julien, along with their sister Claire, recently opened a donor advised fund with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation in order to help the area’s children for decades to come.
“These siblings are what we call the ‘New’ Faces of Philanthropy,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “Whether they want to give back to the communities that helped them be successful or they want to leave their current community better for future generations, these ‘Next Gen’ philanthropists are extremely passionate about their giving.”
The idea for the Devisse Fund began with oldest sibling Marc wanting to start a foundation to help local children, and approaching his brothers and sister to join him.
“Ever since my son was born, I’ve realized the importance of helping others,” said Marc, 32, a Florida Gulf Coast University alumnus who lives in Bonita Springs and owns Tri-Town Construction. “I see how much love that he is given and how happy he is in life, and it hurts me to see other children who don’t have basic needs taken care of for them. Kids should be able to remain carefree and not have to be forced to be adults and raise their siblings or have to worry about what they are going to eat or where they’re going to sleep. I am in a position that I can help, and I feel it’s my civic duty to do so, plus it feels really good.”
Marc started the fund with $500, and the other siblings joined in with individual matches.
“The four of us were very fortunate to have a stable household with loving parents growing up,” said Claire Devisse Gogan, 27, a realtor with John R. Wood Properties. “They gave us so much love, and they were always there for us. They also provided guidance and pushed us to be the best we can be. Because of that and the opportunities we were given, we are able to have the careers that we have today.”
According to the family, the plan is to grow the fund and continue to think of the best ways to help the siblings’ passions including less fortunate children, animals and more. A majority of the fund will be dedicated to children who want to improve their lives and the lives of others but have been put in unfortunate situations.
“I think our main focus is to continue to donate to the fund in order to set it up for the future and really be hands on down the road to make a difference,” said Julien, 29, a coastal engineer living in Wilmington, N.C. “It’s great to donate to various causes but you don’t always know where that money is going. This will allow us to be hands on and actively manage where our funds are going.”
Nextgendonors.org reports that four key aspects define millennials philanthropy: They are driven by values, not valuables; they want impact they can see and they want to know that their own involvement has contributed to that impact; giving without significant, hands-on engagement feels to them like a hollow investment with little assurance of impact; and rather than waiting until the sunset of their lives to decide who they are as philanthropists and what legacies they want to leave, these next gen major donors actively craft their identities now and actively think about their own legacies.
“We are all really excited about this,” said Matt, 25, a litigation attorney with Coleman, Yovanovich & Koester, P.A. “We are all interested in leaving this community better than we found it as kids. After learning about how easy it was to start a fund with the Community Foundation, it was a no brainer.”
“We were raised to help others and never take for granted what you have,” Claire added. “I think that played a big part in why we started this fund. We want to help others who may have not had the same opportunities that we did, because everyone deserves a chance to succeed.”
In addition to the new fund, the siblings are involved in a number of their local civic and charitable endeavors. Marc is the founder and current president of the Bonita Kiwanis, and his company holds an annual charity golf tournament that has benefitted Liberty Youth Ranch, Make-A-Wish and the Passion Foundation. Julien volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and the Cape Fear Volunteer Center as well as youth sports. Claire is a passionate volunteer with Domestic Animal Services. Matt is involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as Kiwanis.
“It’s great that this allows me to work with my siblings who are all extremely intelligent and big thinkers,” Marc said. “I’m excited for the ideas and brainstorming that we have started and continue to improve on. Many people in our community have nothing, and we want to help change that.”
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.
For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.