It has been exciting to see the registration of our all-star line up of Team Leaders, the ones who will navigate their nonprofits’ efforts in the 2015 Giving Challenge on September 1 and 2 from noon to noon.

We wanted to share highlights from Kevin Daum’s article, “Ten Traits of Great Leaders and Their Followers,” published in Inc., since we find it so relevant. An outstanding Giving Challenge Team Leader will bring a lot to the table to maximize the opportunity to engage donors, attract new supporters, and leverage attention that supports her organization’s goals.

  1. Ambition. Having passion, drive and determination will make every bit of difference in your Giving Challenge success. Your ambition becomes a contagious part of others’ outlook on the possibilities for success.

  2. Patience.  Let’s face it. A big project–and working with people in general–requires a lot of patience. Not everyone sees the world the same way, and bringing people along requires patience in carrying out your shared vision, especially true for a major undertaking like the Giving Challenge. (And as the Community Foundation works with more than 400 organizations, we appreciate your patience with us too.)

  3. Humility. Great leaders are not overly concerned with who gets the credit, focusing on helping each team member contribute in ways that prove valuable to the entire organization.

  4. Humor. Humor can put everyone at ease, helping us to be more productive, enjoying our work and those we work with. We have also seen that Giving Challenge campaigns that make use of humor have great success in engaging others. Your content becomes more sharable, more likeable.

  5. Vision. When teammates know what the big picture is, they are more motivated by their role in the grand scheme of things. Achieving great things begins with vision and communication of the vision.

  6. Compliance. With so many aspects of the Giving Challenge to manage–grant incentives, deadlines, communication expectations, updating your Giving Partner profile–it’s critical that leaders can comply with the guidelines set out for everyone.

  7. Tolerance. Working with team members who have different ideas, different ways of working, and different communication styles can be trying. It takes tolerance to lead a creative endeavor like the Giving Challenge.

  8. Courage. The Giving Challenge is all about trying out new approaches to attract donors and share your mission with those who want to get engaged. Courageous campaigns are led by courageous leaders who are willing to do step outside the comfort zone.

  9. Accountability.  At the end of the day, the results of each organization’s efforts are there for the team to enjoy and celebrate. Whether it’s a fundraising goal, communication goal, or strategic goal the nonprofit is hoping to achieve, the team leader’s accountability enables others to be accountable.

  10. Gratitude. Never ever underestimate the power of sharing appreciation with your team members and others who have helped to make success possible. Do it often and genuinely.

What’s missing on this list of star qualities?

We are so impressed each year with everyone who steps up and does tremendous work to bring their nonprofits into the spotlight. It’s a local spotlight we’re proud of, but other communities always ask about our local campaigns as well. They start with great leaders.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County



Consider walking through the grocery store, reflecting on what seems like thousands of options in salad dressing.

Clever packaging may catch your eye, but I bet you’re also interested in the ingredients, the calories, the price, and of course, past experience tells you what tastes you have enjoyed or care to forget.  Although you may be grateful to Publix, Whole Foods or Trader Joes for carrying so many choices, you do not assume each is “good” simply because it is available.

People are different. Consumers are different. Donors are different. We make choices based on that perfect combination of what’s most important to us. Most of us look for a combination that addresses value, our personal taste, and our expectations—whether we’re talking about a salad dressing or a charitable donation.

Last week we published a post about nonprofit trust and transparency.

The Giving Partner allows nonprofits in Southwest Florida to share in-depth information about their financials, leadership, programmatic impact, needs and strategies.  But the availability of such rich data points and stories for hundreds of organizations is only part of the story. We have the power to make informed choices when we use the information to compare, ask, and get engaged before we give.

You’ll see a “Reviewed by Your Community Foundation” icon by each organization in The Giving Partner that has disclosed key information annually. The “Reviewed” icon is not an endorsement for the organization. It’s certainly not our role to rate nonprofits or to say who is “good” or “bad.”

Donors, businesses, the media and funders can make informed choices by doing a few things:

  1. Look to see if the nonprofit has an updated profile in The Giving Partner. Remember that the “Reviewed by Your Community Foundation” icon isn’t a seal of approval.

  2. Find out what is most important to you. Does the organization provide specific stories and data that demonstrate it is making an impact? Do its IRS Form 990s and audits indicate financial health? Is the board committed, showing up to board meetings and making personal donations to the organization? Can the nonprofit articulate its goals for the future? Are standard policies in place? These are just a few questions you can research in The Giving Partner.

  3. Ask questions. If there is something you want to learn more about, reach out to the organization and ask. Good organizations always have accessible and knowledgeable people who are happy to talk with you and provide more information.

It’s important that nonprofits and donors alike feel empowered to connect with each other about choices in philanthropy. It starts with information but doesn’t end there.  The Giving Partner is a launching point.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


It's a clear day for nonprofit transparency in Southwest Florida

It’s a clear day for nonprofit transparency in Southwest Florida

A few years ago, when we first introduced The Giving Partner to our community, we passionately shared the reason for our investment: to help donors and others make more informed decisions about their giving and to meet a growing demand from donors for transparency.

Now, equipped with three years worth of data and new efficiencies The Giving Partner has created for nonprofits and for those who make choices in philanthropy, we continue to keep the big picture in mind.

And the big picture goes back to one key word: trust.

  • Can you—as a donor, citizen philanthropist, funding institution, or business—trust that you have good knowledge of the local nonprofit marketplace before you decide where you will give your time, talent, or treasure?
  • Can you trust that the organizations you invest in are committed to disclosing information that should be available to the public?

A barrage of commentary recently emerged from a recent article about four national cancer charities accused of fraud.

When stories like this and the infamous Tampa Bay Times piece published in June 2013 called “America’s Worst Charities” are unveiled, donors begin to question our entire sector. Are other “bad players” close to home? How do we know?

An organization with a published profile in The Giving Partner is not “endorsed” by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. But each organization does answer key questions that help us understand how committed and engaged the board is, how healthy its financials are, what operational and strategic planning processes are in place, and whether or not it’s achieving real results that help our community.

The fact that organizations are providing these data points on a public platform moves our community one step above the rest in retaining the trust we need from donors in order to accomplish the good things philanthropy can do.

Sure, some local nonprofits only complete profiles in The Giving Partner so they can be eligible for grants, opportunities like the Giving Challenge, and access to pro bono consultants, but the number one reason strong nonprofits complete and update a profile leads back to that one word: trust. They know we all have a vital role in establishing and maintaining trust.

There are calls for the IRS to maintain better oversight over charities. There are calls for new watchdog groups to form. I’m grateful that in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties, we’re making information available through our own efforts.

We’re on a path that distinguishes our community, thanks to more than 400 nonprofits committed to transparency; to media partners that spread the word including Sarasota Magazine, iHeart Media and Herald-Tribune Media Group; and to funders including Sarasota County Government, the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, The Patterson Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation and others that insist on using The Giving Partner in their processes.

-Susie Bowie
VP of Philanthropic Education
Community Foundation of Sarasota County