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We're Expecting

We're Expecting

Family gatherings over the holiday season can be filled with all sorts of surprises. Big announcements can be exciting this time of year and a friend of mine used the opportunity to proclaim the joyful news that she and her husband were expecting their first child.

I couldn’t help but think this kind of announcement in late 2014 would provide much anticipation for 2015. It is always exhilarating to have great expectations for the future.

Just a few days into 2015 and we have all read the lists of what’s in and what’s out and seen hours of television ads for weight loss programs and gym memberships and most of us have made some type of list of goals or resolutions.

It seems we are all expecting. Expecting something is a great way to embrace possibility and what we can accomplish individually and as a community. Embracing expectation is what launched the Apollo space program in the 60s and what is driving the Gates Foundation to eliminate polio worldwide. These lofty goals all started with great expectations and the ability to see possibility.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, our days are filled with great expectations as we work with philanthropists, businesses, policy makers and the charitable sector to solve issues facing our region.

Here are a few trends we are anticipating in 2015:

1. More regional design and collaboration: the key word here is more. 2014 saw a surge of groups dedicating themselves to designing and collaborating on solutions to our most pressing issues. WorkforceNOW, the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance, FutureMakers, Alliance of Educational Leaders, and Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker’s efforts to bring Southwest Florida commissioners around a table. Additionally, the SWFL Community Foundation has been hosting Idea Labs that bring nonprofits together to connect and work together.

2. Creative, customized charitable funding: there is a new breed of philanthropists in town looking for new and creative ways of funding the causes they care about. In 2015 we expect to be working with a wide cross section of donors who are looking for ways for their funding to create maximum impact including, social enterprises, impact investing, low interest loans to nonprofits, capital funding and businesses shifting some of their marketing dollars to endowed funds that help the community in perpetuity.

3. Less focus on overhead, more focus on impact; this is a national trend that seems to just be taking hold in Southwest Florida. For decades nonprofits have been evaluated on their ratios of overhead and fundraising expenses but the new philanthropists are starting to realize that if an organization doesn’t invest in infrastructure, talented problem solvers and effective fundraising, they can’t make the change we are all hoping to see in the region.

4. Crowdfunding, Compassionate Shark Tanks and outside funders: At the Foundation we realize that we don’t have the resources to effect change alone. We need each other and the region needs new and leveraged sources of funding and expertise. In 2015 we expect to develop untapped sources of funding for our area and to engage both local and national funders in our work.

5. Issue based solutions: We have issues and we know what they are –water, economic development, education, healthcare, youth development, mental health. But instead of just talking about them, there is a trend emerging in which stakeholders, with very different views and perspectives, are gathering around a table to develop solutions. In the early months of 2015 the Foundation has been asked to convene groups on several of these topics. Here we go!

So what turns an expectation and a possibility into reality? All of us believing together it can happen, setting a deadline and benchmarks and investing our time and energy into making it happen. What if we embraced our expectations this year and turned our lists of resolutions, expectations and possibilities into movements?

I expect Southwest Florida can do it. If you have some great expectations for our region I would love to hear from you at [email protected]

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