13 Feb Then. Now. Always.
For the past year I have been wearing a simple gold ring in the shape of a circle. It isn’t an infinity sign, but the continuous circle serves as a personal reminder of “without end.”
“Without end” has over 300 synonyms in the English language and I apply the concept to many areas of my life; spiritually, emotionally and professionally.
When I began my work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, I was searching for ways to communicate our story to the region. I wanted folks to know that we impacted our community now and, in the future, and I began traveling with a giant tub of Now & Later candy. The take-away was the Foundation’s ability to meet both immediate needs of the community while safeguarding investments for the future. Compassion for the community’s emerging needs, endowment, and sustainability are core components of our mission.
People who know me well, still think the Now & Laters were more about my well documented obsession with candy than foundation messaging, but it did help get our story across more effectively than a PowerPoint presentation.
Over the past seven years I have had the benefit of working alongside founders and early trailblazers of the Foundation. One of my favorite moments in any board meeting is our team pitching what we believe to be a cutting-edge idea, and one of our Senior Advisors can share something similar initiated decades ago.
On many occasions the “back then” reflections have saved us from making mistakes and formulated a new way of thinking or an idea for the here and now.
Foundations run the risk of living in the “back then” because they were built for the “without end.” Many of the grants we make to nonprofits working on today’s issues are made possible by donors who established funds intended to last in perpetuity. But we also support ideas with contributions allocated to be spent immediately. It’s the flexible combination of customized solutions that allow us to have the greatest impact. Giving and thinking in both the now and the always creates generosity and change without end.
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 more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $6.8 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $78.2 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. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.