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The Best of Times

The Best of Times

A friend invited me to lunch last week.  Not long ago she had a highly successful career, owned her own business, and was a leader in her field.  Those were great times.  Now she is retired and I noticed a certain freshness about her, and her new calm was palpable.  She shared her new daily challenges, like what book to read or the struggle of getting out of the house on time even though she doesn’t have anything pressing to do or deadlines to meet, and assured me that these are the best of times.

As she sat across the table from me, I remembered her telling me nearly 20 years ago when her children were younger that she would often work from home or knock off at 3 pm.  She worked hard to achieve an enviable work life balance. My children were a bit younger than hers, and when I had my own business, I never forgot her tricks (though I somehow missed part of her lesson because I ended up working into the wee hours after my boys went to bed).

Now we are comparing notes on our grown children and even learning about her grandchildren.  I still rely on her wisdom and guidance professionally and personally. I am still her student, I suppose.  And, when I get to retire, I hope she will show me the ropes.

But not yet, I have a lot to do in the next 10 to 15 years.  I feel an even stronger sense of urgency the more I learn about the pending transfer of wealth from one generation to the next and its anticipated effect on philanthropy and what it could mean for our community.

Philanthropy is experiencing many changes for numerous reasons.

My change-maker colleagues and I at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation view philanthropy as one part funding and one part action mixed together to create measurable impact or create desired change.  We know that money alone cannot and has not solved anything, but we also know that funding is an essential resource in our philanthropic work to inspire and fund projects driven by nonprofit organizations in Southwest Florida now and in perpetuity.

In 2012, Florida Philanthropic Network commissioned a “Transfer of Wealth” study to understand what might happen to wealth as Baby Boomers begin to retire and pass their assets on to the next generation.  In Florida, it is expected that more than $322.35 billion will change hands from one generation to the next by 2020. In Lee County, more than $15.32 billion will change hands by 2020 and grow to $163.42 billion by 2060.

Imagine if our current generation of donors considered giving even 5% of their assets to charity, it would result in millions upon millions captured, protected, invested (endowed), and then a portion granted each year to causes the donors care about.  Talk about the ability to improve the quality of life in a community BY the community!

The Community Foundation recently granted $550,000 to regional nonprofits from funds left by donors. We continue to work with the awarded nonprofit grantees after the money is given to help them stay the course of the grant and help them with their organization’s challenges.  We all could do so much more with our nonprofit partners if we had even 5% more resources without the burden of fundraising at every turn. At the foundation, we work with donors every day to plan their philanthropy whether it is for current community needs or left in their estate for future needs that match their passions. And if you ask me, these are the best of times preparing for even better times ahead.

If you ever want to talk about what we do, just give me a call or email me at [email protected].  We will have the best time — together.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit or call 239-274-5900.





Carolyn Rogers
Carolyn Rogers