Editor’s Note: This article was written by Brittany Mattie and was originally published on March 7, 2018, by SRQ Magazine.
With day to day decision-making on so many little things that life requires you to face, giving to a cause should be a simple quest. Determining which charity to fund can be as easy as deciding which latte to order on the way to work or where to venture to the beach this weekend. Being a donor becomes even easier and more fulfilling when you’re creating good for the causes you deeply care about. Our community in particular offers so many choices, reaping with positive outcomes for the people, places, and animals on this Giving Coast we call home. With independent philanthropy growing significantly in recent decades, people of every age and income level are actively participating in giving their money to the organizations they strongly believe in. In an era where money gets thrown around so frivolously, it’s comforting to know your hard-earned dollars align with your values and that your investment is moving the needle for significant change, whether you have $50 or $500,000.
But how do you ensure your donations are going to the right nonprofit and into the right hands? People often ask how to determine whether or not a nonprofit organization is a good investment or not. We are fortunate enough as a community that something like The Giving Partner exists to help donors be proactive, open up dialogue and ask questions. Launched in 2012 from a collaborative effort by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with support from The Patterson Foundation, The Giving Partner was created as an online tool to do all the vital groundwork for you. It provides in-depth information about more than 600 nonprofits that serve the Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Each of these nonprofits have made a commitment to transparency by filling out a profile sharing verified, detailed information on programmatic results, governance, and financial history. This is then verified by foundation staff members, who also confirm profiles are updated at least once a year to retain the "Reviewed by Your Community Foundation" icon on the site. So after an intensive vetting process of reviewing the charities on accountability, efficiency, financials, and overhead, The Giving Partner inevitably alleviates the investigation necessary to fund an impactful program.
Murray Devine, Communications and Marketing Manager of The Community Foundation shares his view, "Beyond just an online resource for donors and funders to learn more about local choices in Giving, The Giving Partner has also allowed The Community Foundation to keep a pulse on the nonprofit community. We can learn about what areas in management, governance, finance, communications, and other fields they may need help in, and our Community Investment Team can build nonprofit capacity by tailoring our own nonprofit services, workshops, and consultant program around what they need. The transparency is mutually beneficial to all involved.
”What you can do to ensure that you're not just another name on a mailing list, The Giving Partner recommends thinking of yourself not as just a donor, but a partner – express to the organization what your aspirations and expectations for your charitable dollars are. The information provided in their profile will allow you to decipher how strong, committed, and ethical is their leadership, how diverse is their sourcing, and how is their ability to articulate goals. As a preliminary intro to finding one that best suits your interests and values, they provide some powerful questions you can ask when considering who/what to support – How are your programs and services impacting people in the short-term? In the long-term, how will my dollars create positive change? How do you monitor and report on success? What are some specific examples of success stories?
Thankfully, making an informed decision as meaningful as this now comes as easy as choosing the Matcha Tea Latte tomorrow morning and South Lido beach park this weekend. Except, this decisive resolution packs a lot more punch. Cheers to local donors and citizen philanthropists alike making a difference in the community we live and thrive in.
The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is proud to partner with SRQ Media Group to highlight stories about community impact powered by philanthropy in our region, thanks to the support of donors and our local nonprofit partners. The Community Foundation is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. For more information, visit www.CFSarasota.org