The Philanthropy Connection

By staff September 1, 2006

This is a remarkable time of growth and change for Sarasota. But despite the outward trappings—the luxury condominiums, the glitzy new shops—the often desperate needs of many in our city have not diminished. In many ways, what former School Board member Janice Mee said some years ago is more true than ever: “This is a community of wealthy seniors and poor children.”

Addressing that imbalance is a major reason why we devote an entire magazine every September to Sarasota’s nonprofit sector. And that sector is a growing—and important—part of our city, providing jobs, revenues, entertainment and enrichment to the entire community. The Nonprofit Resource Center, a program of the Community Foundation of Sarasota, reported in a recent newsletter that in the last 20 years, real assets and revenues in the nonprofit sector more than tripled. According to a July 2005 release from the IRS, more than 1,350 nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations are in Sarasota County alone. They’re helping our oldest and youngest residents, the less fortunate, the disabled and the infirm. They’re preserving our environment, strengthening our artistic and cultural riches, working toward more affordable housing and broadening our students’ experiences.

At a Community Foundation Legacy Society luncheon last winter, president and CEO Stewart Stearns challenged donors to “think outside the box” when brainstorming ways to better our area. Inside this issue, you’ll read about some of the unconventional and creative ways organizations, volunteers and donors are doing just that. After his remarks, Stearns gave a box to each of us, filled with gifts that included a journal and a thought-of-the-day calendar. As I flipped through the calendar, several sayings resonated.

From cross-country running champion (and Riverview High graduate) Beth Lukens: “Some individuals dream of great accomplishment, while others stay awake and do them.”

From Zen master Taisen Deshimaru: “To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.”

And from Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

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