National Philanthropy Day, celebrated in November, 2019 is the perfect time to look at the many ways donors and non-profit agencies work together to make our communities infinitely more livable. There are countless opportunities for all of us to get inspired and make a real difference.
Rather than a national celebration of philanthropy as its name suggests, National Philanthropy Day is a grassroots effort to increase public engagement in philanthropy on the local level through learning, volunteering and giving. Its goal is to help potential donors navigate the vast landscape of non-profits serving the community and find the ones that intersect with their personal values and priorities.
South Florida, like other major metropolitan areas, is home to hundreds of small and mid-size non-profits, not counting local outposts of national charities. With all of them committed to making a difference in our communities, how are donors to know where their money will have the most impact?
For generations, community foundations have been stepping in to answer these and other questions that would-be philanthropists have about how best to advance causes for which they care about dearly.
Community foundations exist to serve as trusted local intermediaries bridging the gap between donors and causes worthy of their support. Community foundations can be geography-specific by locale, or purpose focused, such as those that support the arts, religious concerns or LGBT causes.
Our Fund Foundation is a community foundation within a community, serving South Florida’s large and diverse LGBT population. Past grants have funded creation of LGBTQ curriculum for classrooms, counseling for income-challenged seniors, health network resources for LBT women and other challenges facing LGBT people.
There is great wealth in South Florida, but our relatively young region does not have a history of giving comparable to more established parts of the country. Some of this is due to the “snowbird” nature of our region’s wealth that leads to gifts being diverted to causes in original hometowns rather than adopted hometowns.
Much of that is changing as more and more older South Floridians are considering the region their home and are getting a better view of how their generosity is impacting their local community.
The first step in curating a meaningful plan for charitable giving is to acknowledge its deeply personal nature. Feeling a special connection to the causes that matter to you is a powerful emotion, especially when you can see the fruits of your generosity in your community. Yes, charity begins at home, and a community foundation can be a wonderful partner in helping you to make a difference where it matters most.
David Jobin is President and CEO of Our Fund Foundation, a community foundation dedicated to promoting and increasing responsible philanthropy directed at agencies advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.