Here in hurricane-prone Florida we are definitely hard-wired to want to reach out and help our fellow Americans in other parts of the country when disaster strikes. The communities in Oklahoma that were struck by this week’s tornadoes are in the first steps of what we know will be a long road ahead of them to deal with a myriad of immediate, intermediate and long-term relief and recovery needs. If you want to give a donation to help with relief and recovery efforts in Oklahoma, here are some options to consider: Continue reading
Florida foundations made their voices heard in Washington this week. Florida Philanthropic Network led a team of 12 Florida grantmakers for visits with Florida’s representatives and senators as part of the annual Foundations on the Hill event on March 19-20, 2013. The event was co-sponsored by the Council on Foundations, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers and the Alliance for Charitable Reform. We blanketed the Hill, making contact with all 29 members of Florida’s congressional delegation and their staffs, to stress to our legislative leaders the important role that philanthropy plays in our state. Continue reading
Last week I had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand the last few hours of the 36-Hour Giving Challenge, an amazing two-day marathon of charitable giving to benefit nonprofits in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. The second annual Challenge, which started at 7:00 a.m. on March 5 and ended at 7:00 p.m. on March 6, broke its own record by raising more than $2.78 million for 285 nonprofits. Even more impressive, the Challenge generated 17,626 donations from 50 states and 24 countries – a 65% increase in donations from last year. Continue reading
This year Florida Philanthropic Network is losing a valued member. The Eckerd Family Foundation is sunsetting, per the intentions of the foundation’s founders, the late Ruth and Jack Eckerd, and therefore will no longer be a part of our membership. On February 1 at FPN’s 2013 Statewide Summit on Philanthropy, we honored two of the Eckerd Family Foundation’s leaders, Joe Clark, the foundation’s president, and Jane Soltis, the foundation’s vice president.
Based in Tampa, the Eckerd Family Foundation was founded 15 years ago by Ruth and Jack Eckerd and endowed with $100 million. Jack Eckerd founded Eckerd Drugs in Florida. Joe Clark, Ruth and Jack Eckerd’s son-in-law, has been with the foundation since the beginning, and Jane Soltis has been there almost as long. The foundation upheld Ruth and Jack Eckerd’s spirit of philanthropy by investing in youth and families, encouraging youth leadership, supporting the journey into young adulthood and the pursuit of educational and vocational opportunities. Continue reading
The theme of Florida Philanthropic Network’s 2013 Statewide Summit on Philanthropy was “What Is Philanthropy’s Leadership Opportunity?” So it was a particularly appropriate occasion for FPN to honor two people who have taken full advantage of their leadership opportunities in Florida’s philanthropic sector: Sherry Magill, President of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund in Jacksonville, and David Odahowski, President & CEO of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park. Sherry and David are two of the co-founders of Florida Philanthropic Network. They have served on FPN’s Board of Directors since FPN’s first Board meeting in 2001, and they left the Board on January 30, 2013, after more than 12 years of service. Joining me in honoring them at the Summit was Steve Marcus, President & CEO of the Health Foundation of South Florida, who co-founded FPN along with David and Sherry.
Both David and Sherry have mentioned to me that many years ago they would stand alone in the corner during grantmaker conferences and wonder why Florida couldn’t have an organization that could hold its own conferences for Florida funders; they didn’t want to just see their Florida colleagues at national conferences every now and then. Well, thanks to their hard work, vision and perseverance, Florida now has such an organization. Their vision for FPN was to provide a collective voice for Florida philanthropy and to ensure that philanthropy has a seat at the table when important policy decisions are being made. Continue reading
As Congress reconvenes for the year-end lame duck session to address a number of critical tax and spending issues related to the fiscal cliff, there are reports that a cap on the value of the charitable deduction is under consideration as a potential short-term revenue solution. Although these discussions deal with myriad complex issues, here are some key reasons why capping the charitable deduction is not a good idea for our communities and our state: Continue reading
One of the perks of running a statewide philanthropy association is that I see on a daily basis many heartwarming stories of Floridians who give their time and money to make our state a better place in which to live. The past year I’ve observed a number of particularly inspiring stories of Floridians who have made significant contributions to strengthening Florida’s philanthropic assets, working in partnership with their local community foundation. Continue reading
Last week I was invited to speak to the Florida Board of Education about how philanthropy and government in Florida can be effective partners to improve our state’s education outcomes. This marked the first time that Florida Philanthropic Network has ever presented to the Board of Education. The presentation was part of FPN’s ongoing efforts to improve public-private engagement in education and in other areas that our members support.
FPN has a strong interest in education because it is a top funding issue for many of our members. A study by the Foundation Center revealed that 61% of Florida foundations support education – more than any other issue. That’s why FPN operates an increasingly active Education Funders Affinity Group (EAG) comprised of our members who fund education issues, organizations and needs; the group includes family foundations, independent foundations, corporate givers and community foundations across Florida. Through the EAG, FPN seeks to find ways to build bridges between government, business and philanthropy so that we can work together more effectively to improve education in Florida. Continue reading
Just as Tropical Storm Debby was whipping through Florida last month, Florida Philanthropic Network hosted a webinar to examine philanthropy’s role in disasters, based on lessons learned by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and its philanthropy colleagues as they banded together to respond to the devastating tornadoes in Alabama last year. The webinar offered some helpful advice for grantmakers in Florida, where we know it’s just a matter of time before we’ll be faced with a similar challenge. Continue reading
“Collaboration” is a word that has been bandied about a lot in the philanthropy and nonprofit sectors in recent years, with calls for nonprofit collaboration escalating after the recession hit in 2008. With the recent announcement of the merger of Florida’s two largest philanthropy associations, Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN) and Donors Forum of South Florida (DFSF), Florida grantmakers offer a real-life example of the benefits that can be gained by collaborative restructuring in our sector. I know I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to walk the talk on collaboration.
I was part of a four-member team assigned by FPN’s board of directors to lead the merger effort for our organization, working closely with a similar team assigned by the DFSF board of directors. Right from the start I was struck by the constructive tone of the discussions. Everyone approached the process in the spirit of doing what was best for Florida’s philanthropy sector – not what was best for any of us personally or for our individual organizations. I think that was a critical factor in reaching a successful outcome. Continue reading