We’re reviewing the results of the 2015 Giving Challenge survey, in which 221 participating organizations shared their thoughts and input about the largest online giving event in Florida’s history.

As we reflect on your feedback and ideas for the future, along with so many touching comments of gratitude, we are also meditating upon answers to the question the community may be most interested in: “How will your organization use the funds it raised?”

It is an inspiration to consider the varied and impactful work that will be achieved with the $6.9 million raised from so many generous donors and citizen philanthropists, with support from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation, the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

In addition to funding some of the hardest and most-needed dollars to come by–general operating support–here are some of the programs and projects your Giving Challenge contributions will make possible here in Southwest Florida:

  • Scholarship funds—for special camps, tuition, attendance at after school programs, athletic programs
  • Rescue and rehab for dogs and cats, some with medical and behavioral needs
  • Veterinary bills for rescued wildlife
  • Development of a school library and computer lab
  • Toiletries for school backpack programs
  • Maintenance and upkeep for the two oldest building in the city – the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901)
  • Temporary financial assistance to a family whose child is on the cancer floor at All Children’s Hospital
  • Critical veterinary care for 75+ pets of low-income families
  • Student Playwriting Festival and the development of a new event for the area, Twenty-Minute Musicals
  • Youth bereavement camp for children who have lost a parent, guardian, or sibling
  • ALS research and raising awareness of the disease
  • Update and purchase of new equipment
  • Community outreach and education
  • Veterans Farm Project and other programs to help vets, but we anticipate primarily for the farm project
  • Parent success programs and support of student character development
  • Musical performances
  • Food for children and families in need
  • Programming expenses for Architecture and Design Month
  • Texcellence program and program related initiatives.
  • Subsidizing costs of living quarters for retired circus performers
  • Furnishings for a new nature center
  • Live, local music talent at out 70+ free events in downtown Bradenton
  • Medical equipment loan program
  • Garden seed for volunteers to prepare for empowering a hungry world to grow food
  • Educational program for elementary and pre-school students
  • New building costs, furnishings & medical equipment
  • Free counseling hours
  • Child care services to low-income children in DeSoto County
  • Construction of six new affordable homes in Warm Mineral Springs
  • New transport van
  • Solar power expansion and operations
  • Support for active duty Coast Guard personnel and their families
  • Purchasing and renting musical scores
  • Disaster relief
  • Music education, entertainment, and community engagement
  • Support girls with financial assistance to participate in outdoor leadership opportunities
  • Spay/neuter services
  • New habitat for six African Servals
  • Updated sound system and microphones for performing arts
  • Architectural and engineering study of a facility
  • New home construction
  • Expanded programs into South Sarasota County serving an additional 2,000 children
  • Renovations to Wildflower Preserve
  • Increased shelter space and improved living conditions for families with minor children
  • Advertising to increase mission bandwidth
  • Support Our Troops care packages
  • Increase face to face interaction with citizens of our seven sister cities across the world
  • Enhance and expand Parkinson’s education programs
  • Occupational Therapy equipment for students
  • Bulletproof vests for K9s in Florida
  • Broadcasting on WUSF TV, WUSF 89.7 and WSMR 89.1
  • Resources for teachers and students in Sarasota County Schools
  • Field trips, equipment, and other educational opportunities outside the classroom
  • Help qualifying patients in Florida who are undergoing cancer treatment and need help paying their rent/mortgage, utilities and car
  • Add new, eligible children to the Imagination Library program
  • Bullying prevention workshops and programs
  • Hearing aids to those who cannot afford them
  • Weekly mission flights to missionary families serving in Haiti, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic.
  • Playground equipment
  • STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts & mathematics) programs and clubs for students
  • New uniforms for athletes
  • Artist residencies
  • Safe homes for foster children
  • Young Entrepreneurs Academy and Youth Leadership
  • Medical care, spay/neuter, food and shelter for homeless cats and kittens
  • Water filters and training for mothers in Ghana, West Africa– impacting 10-15 villages
  • Restore a mural that has deteriorated due to water damage
  • Replace crucial but aging field research equipment
  • New air conditioner
  • Therapy and classroom supplies for children with autism
  • Update learn-to-sail boats
  • Accessible bus for residents who are mobility impaired
  • Technology upgrade
  • Granting wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions
  • Books for young children in poverty

That’s quite a list. And it’s only part of what we’ll see happen in our community and beyond over the next six months with this infusion of generosity.

Whatever role you played in helping to make this happen–whether it was serving as your nonprofit’s Team Leader, fundraising as a board member, or giving your time, talent or treasure to the Giving Challenge campaign–thank you.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County