wilsoncomputerAre we spending time together online?

We invite you to get to know The Giving Partner funding partners while you’re spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

Did you know we’re keeping an eye on you? We love to see the photos, stories, updates and mission-focused information your organization takes the time to post on social media.

We also love to interact with you in that space.

We’re hoping you like to follow our work as well. Many times, we highlight what your organizations are up to–especially when you take the time to tag us or post on our pages.

Here’s how to find us:

The Giving Partner
Twitter  @givingpartner

The Patterson Foundation
Twitter  @thepattersonfdn

Community Foundation of Sarasota County
Twitter  @CFSarasota

Gulf Coast Community Foundation
Twitter  @GulfCoastCF

Manatee Community Foundation

See you there!


Pick Two.

June 25, 2013

Remember when your organization attended the orientation for The Giving Partner?

We shared a lot of information with you. We know it. But we want bring you back to one really important idea.

It is the “you pick two” concept from the school cafeteria, pizza parlors and other assorted restaurants. Select your main entrée and any two sides (or toppings).

We want to know where you are with your nonprofit’s “two things” selected from the delicious variety of bite sized fields in The Giving Partner.

As you first moved through this exercise of developing a profile, it was kind of like a mini organizational self-assessment. You may have seen the big picture when it was completed: a snapshot of where your organization stood at that point in time.

Did you choose two or three really important things to improve, expand or develop over the year?

Perhaps you need a conflict of interest policy. Your fundraising plan could still be “under development.” Maybe your board wants to shoot for a higher board meeting attendance rate or boost board member giving to 100%.

The fact is, it’s almost JULY. How did that happen?  At this mid-year point, consider the progress your organization has made in building greater capacity.

What will you be improving or saying “yes” to when it’s time for your annual profile update?

Let us know how we can help. We’re here to support you.

Yes, we did have a little fun at the grant writing session. From left: Patricia Martin, Susie Bowie, Evan Jones, John Annis, Earl Young

Yes, we did have a little fun at the grant writing session. From left: Patricia Martin, Susie Bowie, Evan Jones, John Annis, Earl Young

It was nearly a full house at this morning’s grant writing workshop at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Thanks to Evan Jones, grants manager at the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, about 70 nonprofits learned a lot about what to do–and what not to do–when approaching a foundation.

(Before I continue, I will harp on the fact that your fundraising plan–yes, that lovely document we ask you about in the management section of your Giving Partner profile–should consider diverse sources of revenue. Only 15% of the overall contributions to charitable organizations comes from foundations, according to the new Giving USA report.)

So here is a little Evan-advice about knowing thyself when it comes to grant proposals:

  • If you are one of those people who hates getting rejected, do some positive self-talk before getting too immersed in grant writing. Only 1 in 5 grant proposals gets accepted. Just because you get a “no” doesn’t mean you are not a fabulous grant writer. Do not judge your personal skills based on several denials.

  • Take the time to master all the facts about your organization before you go forth and solicit money–whether it’s from donors or institutional funders. What is the history of your organization? The history of the program you are trying to fund? The total grant dollars you have received from that funder over the years? There is a lot of history in our community, and you do not want the funder or board/committee members reviewing your proposal to know more about your organization than you do.

  • Understand mere eligibility for the grant versus being a good fit for the grant. If you really understand what you are asking for and know your organization’s own capacity, you can differentiate between the two.  This will keep you from wasting your time with proposals that may be delivered to the desk-side retirement bin.

  • Differentiate yourself from others. Yes, yes, yes. Believe it or not, there are organizations in our community just like yours…or very similar to yours. Don’t believe us? Check out www.thegivingpartner.org. You may have heard about it. How are you different? Why is an investment in your organization going to maximize the impact?

  • If you know you are not the best with deadlines, set an extra early deadline in your own personal time zone. According to Evan’s research, grants that are submitted at least 72 hours before the deadline are three times more likely to get approved. Why? He thinks it has a lot to do with the culture of excellence that an early preparer adheres to…plus, he mentioned, when it is there good and early, he may even take a look and let you know if you’re missing a key ingredient.

So there you have it. What kind of grant writer are you?

Want a copy of Evan’s presentation? E-mail Susie@CFSarasota.org.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

An Edge On Empathy

June 19, 2013

Young Rider at Instride Therapy in Nokomis

Young Rider at Instride Therapy in Nokomis

Roxie Jerde, our president and CEO at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, recently shared a fascinating article by George Anders, business author and contributing editor at Forbes.

According to Anders, the number one job skill in 2020 will be empathy.

Anders considers the 20% projected growth over the next seven years in occupations like personal financial planners, health care workers, tutors, etc. and draws an important correlation to the ability of each professional to understand or experience the thoughts and emotions of others.

Spend just 5 minutes reading his article here.

Hopefully, here in the social sector we’re already pretty darn good at this. Most of us are extremely empathetic as we consider the experiences of those we are serving and how to best advance our missions in the community.

I hope we’re extra sharp at empathy when it comes to donor relations.

Does empathy have a place setting at the head of the table when we sit down with our board members, co-workers, and potential nonprofit partners in the community? We may still have a bit to work on in those areas.

Overall we have a real edge as employees and volunteers working in the fields of philanthropy and social good. Is there a market for us to share our “empathy edge” with others?  I think so. We have a lot to offer beyond the essential services we provide to increase the quality of life in communities all over the world.

Let’s build our empathy reserves to sharpen the essential human element in today’s work and to lead the way for others in what may soon be the most in-demand job skill. Some would agree that it is the most important skill in our work now.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


nominating committeeRemember when the ultimate sign of love and friendship was a special mix tape made just for you? That was a while ago.

Today’s mix tapes are called playlists on your iPod, iPhone or iWhatever.

Similarly, nonprofit boards used to recruit new members via a special committee called a Nominating Committee, the mixed tape of the governance world.

In this annual activity, a small group would nominate potential board members for consideration. Discussions about adding new blood might take place once a year when it’s time for an “annual meeting.”

We see this a lot when organizations come to us for help with board recruitment. They are suddenly realizing that a handful of great leaders are cycling off the board (next month) and they desperately need some ideas. Ouch!

Fast forward to the high performing boards of today.

The Governance Committee heads up the year-round activities of board development, including continuous board education, improving board leadership and fine-tuning it to match the organization’s future needs, celebrating successes, and identifying/exploring new potential board candidates throughout the year in a deliberate manner.

This playlist is running on a continuous stream and is an essential part of the background music that inspires and informs the volunteer leadership of your organization.

The Giving Partner asks organizations whether they have written board selection criteria. What is this?

It’s an important document that the whole board helps to develop and the Governance Committee uses to identify board candidates based on the values of your organization, the skills and expertise your board is seeking, and on what you expect board members to do.

The biggest step toward achieving great leadership at your organization is getting the right people on the board and developing the potential of your current board members.

If your board is still operating in rewind mode with a mix tape model, consider moving to an iPod. We think you will love the playlist.


-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Hundreds of miles away in Denver, a fabulous delegation from Sarasota will take the stage today to bring it home–our community is one of the finest places in the nation.

As one of only 20 finalists in the National Civic League’s All-America City Awards, Sarasota County has already given us much to be proud of. This prestigious national recognition is based on innovation, inclusiveness, civic engagement, and cross sector collaboration applied to local needs and issues.

After making it through an extremely competitive application process, each finalist community has 10 minutes to make a live, inspiring presentation in front of the judges. The diverse and accomplished team from Sarasota will represent us well. We hope they can feel our good vibes stretching across the states!

Want to watch them live?  Head over here and you can take a front seat to the action.

You have just a short while to make your “like” count in the 3-minute video contest by visiting the Sarasota Transcends video on YouTube.


Follow tweets from the delegation, including friends from the Sarasota County library system, The Patterson Foundation, the Herald-Tribune Media Group and others on #aacsrq and follow all of the All-America City action on Twitter at #AllAmericaCity.

To the Sarasota County team, we send our best wishes and want you to know our hearts and enthusiastic applause are with you!

Sue Stewart Head shot 2010

Sue Stewart, CEO, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida

On a beautiful Friday morning in May, I was open to participate and energized to be transformed by the provocative and inspired words of Ambassador James Joseph, delivered in a special presentation at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

As a member of a community of leaders from our region, I was immediately focused on his belief of leadership as a way of being and a “charge” to contemplate,  “Why me, Why here, Why now?”

When I was that awkward, shy, seventh grader going off to Junior High School (now middle school), I was new to my neighborhood and school. During our very first assembly in a cavernous auditorium, the principal remarked that we had entered a special place and that we had passed through a doorway marked with the quote: “Enter to learn, go forth to serve”.

Thinking about that school and my experiences, the place we entered was not a building, but a culture of people who believed in us and created an experience of learning far beyond books.

We grew emotionally, socially, morally, and spiritually- all tenets of Ambassador Joseph’s belief in leadership as a way of being. Whether it was through our interactions with peers, teachers, coaches, mentors, parents, or the larger community- we were given opportunities to test our voice, our hopes and dreams, to succeed and even fail.

Our principal, the leader of our school, developed us as a community of people who cared, who took responsibility for self and others and who was a role model for servant leadership. What lessons we learned and lived! We were taught that through service to others we could learn more, be more and grow more than any other act.

Those years at my junior high school, followed by high school, college and graduate school set me on my leadership journey, one that continues to unfold today. I am committed to service, to people, to teams, and to community.

I believe in Ambassador Joseph’s remark that “we are people through other people.”

As a leader of girls and adults, positioned at Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, I have the opportunity and responsibility to create a culture – with and through people- where service to others is the cornerstone of our mission.

Girls today are learning leadership skills through their service, through collaboration and communication, and through meaningful interactions with positive adult volunteers.

Girl Scouts mission is to develop girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. It inspires me every day. Why me, why here, why now? …it is clear to me. My leadership journey continues to unfold.

-Sue Stewart, CEO
Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida