Giving Matters

By staff September 1, 2008

Man, it’s been a hard year economically, and our friends and neighbors are feeling the strain—at the gas pump, in the grocery store, in the retrenchment of our schools and government programs, and over the loss of thousands of area jobs (and the ripple—more like a tsunami, really—that loss is creating).

But instead of becoming paralyzed by the magnitude of the need, our philanthropic community has responded in true Sarasota fashion: by honing in even more closely on our priorities, reaching out to new funding sources and opening up our checkbooks even wider. We’re once again proving that we live in one of the most generous, empathetic and resourceful communities in America.

Even in times of economic uncertainty, philanthropy experts caution organizations—and donors—to maintain focus on their core missions. As Debra Jacobs, president of the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, told Sarasota-based consultant Karen Eber Davis in her e-newsletter last summer (a nifty resource, by the way): People who know the joy of giving don't stop giving, they just become more targeted.”  

Betty Schoenbaum certainly lives that joy every day. When the Association of Fundraising Professionals convened a ballroom-full of high-profile women last spring to launch its “Giving Matters: Empowering Women through Philanthropy” initiative, the remarkably fit and energetic 90-something-year-old exhorted them, “No matter what race or creed, we are all family. And where your family is in need, it’s your duty to help them.”

Our Charity Register has never felt more vital. In these pages, you will find our annual directory of Sarasota’s nonprofit organizations and our comprehensive calendar of the season’s biggest fund-raising events. (Find even more of them online at You’ll also read profiles of people who turned their compassion into action, as the subtitle of Barbara Metzler’s compelling book, Passionaries, reads. And you’ll learn a little bit more about the young woman who last spring captivated the entire nation, our own American Idol, Syesha Mercado—who has thanked this community and several of its charities for playing a role in shaping her talents and aspirations.

We are proud to once again partner with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to publish Charity Register and hope you find it indispensable throughout the year.

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