From an early age, I saw that caring mattered. I remember being in my car seat when suddenly, my father pulled over, leaned across the front seat, and opened the passenger door to offer a woman a ride. She cautiously looked at him as the pouring rain saturated her face and hair, then looked at me. I inspected her with the same skepticism. A few seconds later, she hopped in the car, and her sense of relief filled the space.

My mother's generosity gene is different. She volunteered and gave in more organized ways via fundraising for Hospice, tutoring fourth-grade math, and teaching CCD. Her way of instilling a social conscience was more formal.

In both approaches, getting the credit of doing something for someone else was unimportant.

Many years later, I find myself giving spontaneously and in organized ways. I think the former lends itself to anonymity and instant [temporary] relief, and the latter to being strategic and knowing that giving toward problem-solving has a different weight.

When asked to think about my philanthropic autobiography and what motivates me in terms of charitable giving – time, money, and expertise – I am attracted to causes that ease suffering for people and creatures, especially when humanity is the foundation for injustice.

I am in my sixth year at The Patterson Foundation (TPF), and although volunteering and offering kindness certainly have their place, so do dollars.

Pay-It-Forwards (PIFs) come to TPFers in various forms – from participating in contests centering on initiatives, employee honorariums, or as rewards for extraordinary work. With a PIF award, TPFers are allocated an amount of money to be distributed to meaningful causes via The Giving Partner – a trusted nonprofit directory containing more than 700 profiles of charitable organizations and nonprofits on the Suncoast. Accompanying the check is a letter explaining that this donation is given in honor of a named TPFer along with an explanation of the why. These PIFs have a ripple effect of connecting TPF with community.

Rather than making grants, TPF strengthens people, organizations, and communities through catalytic funding and matching opportunities as shown in initiatives like Season of Sharing, The Bay, Giving Challenge, and Nonprofit Thrivability. With the intent of affirming and inspiring generosity, TPF offers a philanthropy match program for TPFers. With minimum donations of $100, staff and consultants are encouraged to donate up to $5,000 in a calendar year to any nonprofit with an up-to-date profile on The Giving Partner. Match ratios are 1:1 and 2:1 based on years of service.

The last is TPF's Tuition/Fees Reimbursement Program. One of the foundation's tenets is understanding that resources and expertise beyond the gift provide value. I'm unclear what my philanthropic self will look like after courses at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (LFSOP), but I am certain my perspective will change because of this charity.

I am one of the only TPFers to explore philanthropy through all three lenses, and I have observed that these possibilities sparked a new beat to my rhythm – I am in the midst of evolving…

In my bio, I share that I believe life experience forms a person and that my path is anything but linear. After my coursework at LFSOP, I imagine the helper in me will present differently, my motivations will mature and refine, and my happy place will still be bridging creativity with good…just with more intentionality.

Comments (8)

  • Pierrette Kelly

    Pierrette Kelly

    15 September 2022 at 11:48 | #

    Thank you, Stacy.
    Caring Matters, your story is beautiful and will inspire others to explore philanthropy in new ways.


    • Stacy Sternberg

      Stacy Sternberg

      16 September 2022 at 11:03 | #

      Thank you, Pierrette ♥


  • Schineller Rich

    Schineller Rich

    16 September 2022 at 19:23 | #

    Thank you for sharing this, you are an inspiration.


    • Stacy Sternberg

      Stacy Sternberg

      19 September 2022 at 10:02 | #

      Thank you, Rich! You've made me smile :-*


  • Glynis Anderson

    Glynis Anderson

    16 September 2022 at 20:39 | #

    Stacy this is an informing and beautiful read. Thank you for sharing it. You are so humble and are evolving gracefully. Where you land and whatever you do the world will be better for it.


    • Stacy Sternberg

      Stacy Sternberg

      19 September 2022 at 10:03 | #

      Glynis, you're the best....and my nonprofit journey started with you! Thank you for inviting me into this world ♥


  • Cheri Coryea

    Cheri Coryea

    17 September 2022 at 23:25 | #

    Your Philanthropy journey will take you down many paths. They will all be valuable. May your journey of exploration continue to grow.


    • Stacy Sternberg

      Stacy Sternberg

      19 September 2022 at 10:05 | #

      Thank you, Cheri! I love a good adventure, and I have to say, I have the best team for this exploration!


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