By now, some of you are snuggled back in your beds after venturing out in the wee hours of the morning to snag some deals for the holidays.

Whether you are in that group or in the anti-shopping group, we have some fun suggestions for treating your friends, your loved ones and even yourself to amazing finds while supporting local nonprofits.

  1. BOGO deal: Go for an experience.
     Take a short search through The Giving Partner using search terms like “museum,” “theater,” “arts,” “history,” or “environment” and you will gain an appreciation for the number and diversity of arts and cultural organizations, attractions, and natural treasures in our community.

    Purchase a gift membership to a museum, tickets to a performance, or a class at an art center.  If you buy one for your friend or loved one and also buy one for yourself, you are guaranteed to build priceless memories with the time you will spend together.

  2. Alternative deal: Go for feel-good.
    Use the money you saved on traditional Black Friday deals to support local nonprofits, says The Giving Partner Facebook friend Susan Barber. “Save 35 dollars on a TV? Donate even a portion of the savings and it becomes a win-win for everyone.”Or “skip the stores and donate [gifts],” says Betsy Mitchell. Consider giving clothes or toys, or iPads to local organizations.

    Another alternative deal idea: make donations in your loved ones’ names to their favorite nonprofits. If you know the missions that are near and dear to their hearts—homelessness, child abuse prevention, literacy, conservation, animal welfare, etc.—and want to see what all of your choices are in the local charitable marketplace, do your homework online at www.thegivingpartner.org. You can see the different missions and accomplishments of organizations in Southwest Florida and make informed choices about where you choose to give.

  3. Gift card deal: Go for the gift of choice.
    If you’re a gift card sort of boy or girl, check out the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s Giving Spirit Cards, available in $25 increments, redeemable for cash donations at any 501(c)(3) charitable organization in the country.  You can also buy gift cards from Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Gulf Coast Gives, allowing your favorite peeps to fund specific projects at local nonprofits.

Now if you still want to buy more traditional gifts for the special people in your life, you might want to check out some of the alternative gift fairs selling goods and crafts made locally, with proceeds benefiting local nonprofits. Special thanks to The Giving Partner Facebook fan Linda Craig for the suggestion!

Wishes for a wonderful weekend and happy (charitable) shopping.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


sunriseDuring the week of Thanksgiving, we are more open in expressing gratitude for the greatest and smallest of good things.

While we may be vocal with our appreciation this time of year, we have so much to be thankful for every day.

  1. Generous donors.
    First and foremost, the work we are able to do to help our community is made possible through generous donors.  “Generous” donors are those who trust our nonprofits and foundations with their legacies, their major gifts, their recurring monthly donations, or their single contributions of $10 or $25.  Thanking them year-round by relaying stories of the positive difference we are making–made possible by them–is an important way to boost our organizational stability and reaffirm their commitment to it. We can also thank them by continuing to instill trust in the nonprofit sector as a whole and in our individual institutions.  Special thanks to the nonprofits demonstrating transparency, updating their profiles in The Giving Partner on a regular basis.

  2. Strong leaders.
    Organizational leaders are our board members and our executive staff. But they are also the program assistants, development associates, marketing directors, volunteer managers and others who lead with fortitude, determination and courage within their roles. We can express our gratitude by affording all of our team members opportunities for ongoing professional development.

  3. Daring and caring media partners.
    Southwest Florida is home to media partners who regularly showcase their generosity with many thousands of dollars of in-kind support for nonprofit organizations and foundation-led initiatives.  Make no mistake, space in publications is not “free” for our media friends. Additionally, reporters and editors frequently cover the stories our nonprofits and foundations address through philanthropy–homelessness, human trafficking, the arts, conservation, education, and many other issues.  Kudos to the Herald-Tribune Media Group, Clear Channel, Sarasota Magazine, The Observer Group, SNN Local News 6, the Venice Gondolier, Bradenton Herald, and all of the media partners who strengthen our voices for positive change.

  4. Dedicated volunteers. Volunteers sort food, answer telephones, transport homeless animals, teach adult literacy courses, mentor kids aging out of foster care, table events at the local farmer’s markets, evaluate scholarship applications, lead special events committees, serve on your board of directors. They deliver a full spectrum of services without receiving compensation for their time and talents. We could not deliver on the promises to those who depend on our organizations without them. What gratitude we owe volunteers! And many, yes many, are also donors.

  5. Investments in capacity building.
    The Council on Foundations, Southeastern Council of Foundations, Florida Philanthropic Network and other organizations deliver incredible resources to help foundations build their capacity, advocate, take care of their grantees, innovate in philanthropy. We are grateful for the contributions of their staff and boards. Locally, nonprofits have the gift of associations such as a strong local chapters of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Florida Public Relations Association. The Patterson Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County are each heavily invested in helping nonprofits beyond the dollar–whether it’s facilitating collaborations, providing access to professional consultants, or offering free trainings and workshops.  Foundations and donors are grateful for the organizations who make excellence and continuing development a priority.

Let’s not be shy about expressing our gratitude throughout the year.

For many, hearing the simple message of “I appreciate you” provides the fuel to charge forth with renewed energy and commitment to the mission.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County