"You work for a foundation that doesn't write grants? How can that be?"

I seem to be on the receiving end of this question quite frequently. Coming from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (LFSOP), the world's first school fully devoted to the study of philanthropy, there are certain conceptions regarding how foundations should operate. Foundations must have a grant cycle, an approval board, and a way to distribute their 5% minimum (most of the time with multiple stipulations attached). Any organization existing outside of this "norm" often raises eyebrows. When I began working with The Patterson Foundation (TPF), I quickly realized that existing in the space of "the norm" was not in the foundation's DNA.

TPF exists to strengthen the efforts of people, organizations, and communities by breaking down silos and fostering wide participation. When I initially joined the TPF family, I felt in the dark as to how this was accomplished without any traditional grant making. But TPF invests in the Suncoast region of Florida in innovative and strategic ways.

One of the ways TPF fosters participation within the region's nonprofit community is through the Giving Challenge. The Giving Challenge is a 24-hour event supporting nearly 700 nonprofits serving Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties in Florida. Hosted by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and strengthened by an unrestricted match by The Patterson Foundation, the Giving Challenge gives nonprofits a chance to raise unrestricted dollars for their work while creatively connecting with new and existing supporters. The $16+ million raised throughout the 24-hour challenge by 46,000+ donors in 2022 will work to enhance nonprofits across the region and beyond.

For a look back at a Decade of Giving, click here for a blog from TPF CEO Debra Jacobs. This innovative approach demonstrates TPF's willingness to go above and beyond in their funding. No other foundation in the country (at least that I am aware of) provides unlimited, unrestricted matching dollars during a given challenge.

Granted (pun intended), there are certainly benefits to partnering with one's community via a grant cycle. But instead of doing things the way they have always been done, TPF chooses to undertake philanthropic work in ways others are not doing, cannot do, or will not do. From offering classes to nonprofits on earned income to collaborating with lead partners through the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to funding conversations to find shared aspirations, TPF joyfully stewards its resources in a unique way. What comes from this is a marvelous tapestry of togetherness.

To answer the initial question, TPF does not make grants. Instead, it works to help unlock the full philanthropic potential of its community by helping to shift the power back to the individuals inside the community. What TPF strives to make is a thriving region full of passionaries and possibilitarians. There is always value beyond the check, and the foundation hopes to keep discovering it.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.