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Who are the Gift Makers?

Who are the Gift Makers?


When I walked into a Makerspace for the first time, I curled up on a well-worn sofa, surrounded by workspaces that were flanked by shelves and bins filled with tools and materials of all sorts.  I took it all in as I waited for the space facilitator to provide instructions on operating a solder gun.  I quickly discovered that the art of soldering is key to “making” things.

The Maker Movement emerged in the early 2000’s through faires and spaces that were created specifically for making things, particularly with digital and internet-based tools.   A hallmark of the Maker Movement is its do-it-yourself mindset.  These spaces introduced many people to 3D printers and other technology that was not widely available to an individual consumer.

Of course, do-it-yourselfers, crafters, and creators have been “making” things since the beginning of time, but a shift occurred when physical spaces were created allowing people to collaborate and build community around making.  Makerspaces bring people together around a range of activities.  Mine was learning to solder.

It was much more interesting and fun learning to solder with a group of other makers rather than alone in my garage.  That is the joy of community building, connecting with others for the greater good, many times through a common cause or interest.

In this issue of Florida Weekly, you will find the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s winter edition of Our Community that highlights an emerging breed of makers-

The gift makers.

Gift makers come from all walks of life.  They are social entrepreneurs, professional advisors, donors, advocates and volunteers who are looking for a community or ecosystem to develop new ideas and funding streams that create community change.

The tools they use are as varied as those you would find in a makers’ lab.  They use venture capital, crowd funding, virtual endowments, donor advised funds and other creative means to generate inspiration, passion and action around the causes that are closest to their hearts.

Although they have individual missions and reasons for their generosity, the ability to connect with other change makers through the foundation allows them to part of a diverse community of other gift makers.

In the same way a supportive facilitator was on hand to help guide me through learning the basics of soldering, the foundation team stands ready to guide and assist the gift makers.

We work with professional advisors as they assist their clients on charitable giving plans, walk alongside corporations and small business as they navigate social responsibility and sustainability, connect donors with nonprofits working on their chosen causes and customize funds that allow them to be creative and imaginative in their philanthropy.

And in keeping with the Makers Movement we are creating a place and space in which gift makers can gather and create together.  Our Collaboratory, a space where people, ideas and funding and technology will meet to solve our region’s most pressing issues, will open this summer in the renovated Atlantic Coast Rail Depot in downtown Fort Myers.  Check it out on our website, we have a lot of information and updates at

We are calling all gift makers to join the movement. There is no telling what we can create together.  I will bring my solder gun.

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 $5.4 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $115 million, it has provided more than $71 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. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit


For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit










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