Four years of building connective tissue to create new realities

Four years of building connective tissue to create new realities

Posted on January 07, 2014 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation

It was January 6, 2010, when The Patterson Foundation (TPF) announced nine initiatives to honor the family who made TPF a reality. We chose these nine initiatives because, like a solar system, each would have a distinct orbit, atmosphere and size -- yet all would be part of a bigger entity providing learning opportunities.   

Each of these initiatives focused on investing resources -- both intellectual and financial -- in a space where there was an opportunity to build connective tissue to create new realities. Rather than supporting what was already in place, we pursued gaps among excellence to create stronger impact. Six of the nine original initiatives have ended, however impact continues beyond our work. A great example of this is how the Aging with Dignity and Independence findings are being shared by Kathy Black, a professor of gerontology at USF Sarasota-Manatee. In addition, the Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter continues to exceed its fundraising targets and uses the tools embedded from our partnership with them.  

We have learned that matching challenges support the idea that “everyone can be a philanthropist” as exemplified by the success of the Sister M. Lucia Haas Scholarship Endowment Campaign and the repeated success of the Season of Sharing Campaign to support those on the verge of homelessness.  

The Patterson Foundation supports conversations among entities that want to work together, such as the Sarasota County Health Safety Net System of Care and EdExploreSRQ, which is an online platform to connect classrooms to the community.

Over the past four years, TPF has added initiatives where there has been alignment in key areas of leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity and culture all undergirded by trust. NetHope, our global partner in how information communications technology (ICT) sparks lasting disaster recovery, and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy each demonstrated how alignment in those areas allows for agile and meaningful investments for strengthening mission impact.

What else has made a difference in four years? TPF embeds strategic communications in every initiative as well as financial thrivability.  This combination of added strategic resources created opportunities for people with different missions to come together with a common theme to raise funds for their respective missions. A very successful demonstration of this was the Unified Legacy of Valor Opportunity, which brought together 12 nonprofits with programs serving those who have, are or may serve in the military. In addition, the Clawback Recovery Challenge showcased a unique combination of capacity building and fundraising in the wake of a financial crisis.

While there is not enough room to spotlight each of our current initiatives, I hope this glimpse into our work helps illustrate how we're dedicated to making a difference with the flexibility, opportunity and responsibility provided by Dorothy Patterson when she created TPF with an unfettered charter to do good and to do it well.


  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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