Photo: Experiential Learning with The Patterson Foundation

The Future of the Philanthropic Sector Spring Course: Reflections from Kellie Alexander

Posted on March 27, 2020 by Kellie Alexander, experiential learning with The Patterson Foundation
Editor’s Note: The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and The Patterson Foundation are partnering on “The Future of the Philanthropic Sector,” a special topics course for the school’s students during the spring 2020 semester. The course has connected students to The Patterson Foundation’s innovative approach to philanthropy and nonprofits in the Sarasota area engaged in the Foundation’s initiatives through interactive online experiences.

Kellie AlexanderThrough the “The Future of the Philanthropic Sector – Experiential Learning with The Patterson Foundation” course, students have an opportunity to explore many different parts of the nonprofit sector, including the Giving Challenge, which is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation. On Wednesday, March 18th these students listened in on the Giving Challenge Panel Discussion with members of both foundations and local nonprofit organization members.

We started our conversation with an introduction of everyone sharing a moment when their philanthropic passion was sparked. Learning from each other’s experiences presented the motto that everyone can be a philanthropist. It took us on the perfect detour in order to fully understand the components that make up the Giving Challenge.

Using the same theme as our course objective, inspiring philanthropy, the Giving Challenge gives organizations an opportunity to develop connections within the communities of Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties in Florida. However, before an organization can take part in the Giving Challenge, a profile on The Giving Partner must be created. The Giving Partner is an online platform offering key information about nonprofits in the region to help donors make informed decisions. Organizations must develop and update a profile in order to show their impact in their local community. This must include evidence of transparent practices, legal documents and their mission, and their programs and needs. Only after completion of this profile are nonprofits eligible to take part in the Giving Challenge.

Nonprofit members agree that The Giving Partner, which recently upgraded to a new platform, is easy to use to upload documents, stories, photos, and use the interactive space. In addition, this is an amazing opportunity to allow the community to look at what local organizations can do while also working with GiveGab, an online giving platform, to establish a new arena that is supportive for this need.

However, organizations must do more than just upload a profile onto The Giving Partner. They must pump their philanthropic muscle to get those donations from community members who can give. During the months leading up to the Giving Challenge and even after, communication trainings on how to reach out to donors take place, and fundraising campaign strategies are shared for organizations and other community members.

The Giving Challenge is a 24-hour completely virtual event that takes place during strategically planned times. The donations that go to organizations are unrestricted revenue, which is able to directly develop programs that make sense and fit the needs of the community. There is a minimum donation of $25 within the Giving Challenge, which allows everyone to be a philanthropist. In addition, during the 2020 Giving Challenge, The Patterson Foundation will match unique donations 1:1 up to $100 without a cap on the number of unique donations. This allows donors to give to whom they want, and then gives organizations the ability to raise as much money as they can.

A member from a smaller local nonprofit organization stated that through the Giving Challenge, more donors and friends join in to create large change and positive effect. “We are able to tell our story and communicate with the donors through this experience. Especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still able to check in with donors, see how they are doing, and thank them.”

After the Giving Challenge takes place, there is one thing that is imperative for organizations to follow through with: Thanking donors! This campaign is not just about the 24 hours, but about the difference that can be made during and after the virtual event. Organizations have the opportunity to steward these donors that are seeking opportunities to make a difference now and in the future.

The Giving Challenge shows that everyone can be a philanthropist — they just need the opportunity to find their passion.

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