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Yes and No

Yes and No

The unlimited text plan on my smart phone got a work out last week.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation we have the honor, privilege and responsibility of awarding grants to local nonprofits through our annual Community Impact Grant process.

If you think awarding funds to worthy nonprofit organizations is incredibly rewarding, you are right. Donors have established funds with specific instructions as to what type of organizations and projects they want to support and our job is to make sure that their wishes are realized and that their investment will create positive change.

Over the Foundation’s 39-year history, we have had the pleasure of awarding over $60,000,000 in funding- that is a lot of yes. This year we will award $500,000 to a variety of causes and agencies through this grant cycle. Half a million dollars is significant, but the reality is we receive nearly $3.7 million of ideas and requests for the nonprofits in our region.

For every idea that moves ahead in our grant making process there are dozens that do not.

The joy of saying yes to some is tempered by delivering news to the nos, or the not-yets. Last week we reached out to 114 non-profits to let them know if they were moving on in the next phase of our grant making process.

I have been on the no side of grant requests many times and I know that people who are passionate about changing the world and are seeking funding to make that happen are deeply disappointed when their idea can not be realized.

I can feel their pain through the texts that light up my phone screen.

These messages do not fall on deaf ears. The Foundation team is committed to providing feedback to the nonprofits on their ideas by highlighting the strength of the proposal and offering suggestions for a stronger presentation in the future.  This year, nearly 30 ideas will be presented to a group of donors and foundation staff in our “Compassionate Shark Tank” setting and we catalog and curate the others to share with donors throughout the year.

Our greatest desire is to be a partner in the nonprofit’s work and to connect them with the resources they need.

But the Foundation is not alone in the yes and no conversations. Every single one of us that contributes time or money to nonprofit organizations in our community has to make these decisions.  I often tell people that for every yes they say when they write a check they are saying no to thousands of other worthy organizations- I urge them to make every yes count.

Many times the Foundation helps our fund holders get to a yes they can feel good about when they want to grant money from their fund. We help them identify their values and interests and identify projects that can create measurable change with the level of funding they have available.

If you are beginning to plan your year-end giving and would like information on funding projects or programs that match your passion or are considering how you would like your charitable dollars strategically allocated in the future, please reach out to us, we have some great ideas waiting for a yes. As always, you can reach me at [email protected]. Yes!


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