MomDaughterThe Community Foundation of Sarasota County often uses The Giving Partner profile for Forty Carrots Family Center as a great example for nonprofits that wish to share meaningful information about their programs and services with donors and funders.

Even with its long history of successful programs and accomplishments, Forty Carrots’ team, led by executive director Michelle Kapreilian, is always looking for improvement. Together with nationally-known outcomes guide Hal Williams, the board and staff teams have embarked on an exploration to change the way they track and define program results.

Michelle recently shared five things Forty Carrots is learning from its focus on tracking achievement:

  1. A results focus is a mindset change for an organization. Forty Carrots included executive staff and its board of trustees in moving to this new perspective. It then trickled down throughout the organization.

  2. Moving toward tracking outcomes instead of activities is a process that involves some experimentation. Some of the changes worked as intended, but others did not. Forty Carrots took the successes and built upon them with continuous refinement. It viewed strategies that did not work as lessons for future decisions and changes.

  3. A results focus does not mean that an effective program needs to change, only how the results are measured. Michelle encourages mindfulness about not disrupting qualities that are key to program effectiveness or implementing processes where clients feel a need to “perform”. The focus should remain on understanding the real results.

  4. The “See and Hear” strategy can help drill down to the core of seemingly intangible and hard to measure outcomes. This involves looking at what you see and hear to identify whether a key indicator of success is present or absent, or that a behavior change has taken place.

  5. Discussions about the technology necessary to track your new outcome measures should be part of your organization’s investment. It begins with a clear understanding about what needs to be tracked. Understanding the technology choices available, investing in the right software, and staff training follow.

Seven local agencies in Sarasota are in the midst of finalizing a “small change project” with Hal Williams, in which they have taken an important program and refined the way they track and define outcomes.

The Forty Carrots case study and Michelle’s willingness to share it have helped our foundation and the participating agencies appreciate the process of this kind of work. It requires patience and commitment from all levels of a nonprofit team—from its volunteer leaders to the program staff.

We’ll be sharing more soon.


A Giving Challenge campaign that garnered attention from the beginning–and was ultimately selected by a local panel of media judges as one of two Best Overall Campaign recipients–belonged to the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast.

“Make 24 hours equal forever” was its very apropos call to action, considering the organization’s work to protect the environmental character, biodiversity and natural integrity of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

But beyond this mission, we can’t help but love its implications for every organization that took such time and effort to prepare for a record-breaking day of giving in Florida on September 1 and 2.

By now we all have the numbers firmly engrained into our consciousness. In just 24 hours, more than 36,400 individual donations were made to 449 local nonprofits serving Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and Desoto counties yielding $6.7 million from online gifts, matching funds from The Patterson Foundation, and funding from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the Knight Foundation.

Long after the media attention, Donor Lounge fanfare, and Leaderboard addiction melt away, we have opportunities of a nonprofit lifetime in front of us.

On this first week of Fall, it’s a perfect time to consider how we can harvest the Giving Challenge and its treasures for all they are worth.  Here are three plans your team should be jotting down furiously, while all of this is fresh and exciting.

  1. Your plan for retaining the donors who contributed to your organization in the Giving Challenge.
    Whether your organization had one new donor or hundreds of new donors, don’t let them be “first and only” gifts. Let’s also consider the long-time supporters who gave during the Challenge. Going forward, how will your nonprofit make sure these donors feel appreciated, are engaged, and give again? For first-time donors, getting that second gift is both a challenge and an opportunity. Meet it!

  2. Your plan for sharing the impact Giving Challenge donations will make.
    I bet you have a plan for how your organization will spend the funds it raised in the Giving Challenge. How will you share the impact those dollars will make on real people, on animals, on important issues, or our environment? When donors can see their gift tied to a real result in the community, they are more likely to give again. Consider videos, newsletters, media relations, your website, social media–all of the different ways you can share the outcome created by so much generosity.

  3. Your plan for harvesting what you learned.
    Every time we host the Giving Challenge, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County learns a little more about our internal capacity, what we could do better, what worked really well, what surprised us, how we could be more efficient or effective using technology differently. We capture these comments from our team members and from external feedback and use them in multiple ways. We know there are similar nuggets about your team and about the fundraising/communication strategies you tried. Apply them to your work throughout the year, outside of the Giving Challenge, to build your fundraising strength and experience.

Thousands of people were part of the $6.7 million success our community owns. We owe it to them and to the important missions that were part of the Giving Challenge to carry that success with us into the future.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


The countdown clock on the Giving Challenge website tells me we have less than 3 days until the 24-hour giving “extravaganza” we’ve been waiting for officially begins.

Here are some closing thoughts about exploring new possibilities in giving, brought to you by the letter “r.”

  1. Represent community. 
    Be an active role model in creating community. Be complimentary of what others are doing. We’re all in this together. See another organization doing well in the Giving Challenge?  Imagine what its success will mean for the people, places, or animals that benefit from its mission.

    Two people who have been particularly active on The Giving Partner’s Facebook page sharing positive commentary about other organizations: Carisa Campanella of Neuro Challenge Foundation and JoAnne DeVries of the Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota. What nice examples they have set for building community online.

  2. Respect that donors are all different.
    It’s true that some donors choose to give to animal causes rather than those serving people. Some give to education, some to the environment. Some donors give to the same organizations year after year. Other donors give to a different organization every year, depending on where they can maximize their dollars. One reason philanthropy works in our community is because we have so many diverse interests when it comes to social causes. Respecting these differences will lead to more giving for all of the missions we care about.

    As you see the Leaderboard fill up with donations, remember that each one is there because one person deeply cares about making the world better in a certain way. We should celebrate that.

  3. Resist the urge to compare your campaign to others.
    Be proud of what your organization is accomplishing. Money for your mission is good! But so is bringing your team together, building an online community around your work, making more people aware of the services you offer, growing the fundraising participation of your board, appreciating your volunteers…

    Have you moved the needle in any of these areas? That’s success. If you set your target too high, that’s okay too. You learned what’s possible and what to tweak in your future fundraising efforts.

  4. Recognize your people.
    I bet you didn’t do it alone–we hope you didn’t do it alone. Donors will give. Social media ambassadors have been liking and sharing your posts on Facebook or Twitter.  Others have helped you plan and execute your campaign. Whether you celebrate digitally or at your office, take the time to thank people for being part of your organization’s success, and most importantly, share what this success will mean for the people, special places, or animals you serve.

  5. Reveal yourself as a new donor!
    What if each nonprofit staff member, volunteer, or board member gives to her own organization and to an organization she hasn’t supported before? You too can be part of The Patterson Foundation’s generous matching dollars, up to $250 when you give to a nonprofit as a new donor! Go to http://www.GivingPartnerChallenge.org to find the 449 participating nonprofits.

See you on September 1 & 2 from noon to noon!

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


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

I can’t speak for all foundations, but here at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, we do care if nonprofits have written fundraising plans.

Why? A written fundraising plan helps us feel assured that the generous donors who have entrusted us with their philanthropic dreams are not your organization’s only plan. A thoughtful document outlining diversified revenue sources shows that your leadership has a unified game plan for your programs and services to thrive. All of your team members–board and staff–can work from a common understanding about your fundraising goals, specific strategies for achieving these goals, and who is responsible for key milestones.

Today we concluded the classroom portion of a 4-part fund development plan series developed and facilitated by John Elbare, a fundraising consultant and seasoned expert in the field.

Five organizations serving our community–Big Cat Habitat Gulfcoast Sanctuary, Laurel Civic Association, Volunteer Community Connections, Visible Men Academy, and Sarasota Military Academy–committed teams of board and staff members to participate, developing meaningful plans together through trainings, peer-to-peer discussions, individual work and consulting support.  The organizations will review and discuss these plans at their upcoming board meetings with the support of the consultant.

Here are a few elements of good fundraising plans:

  • Fundraising goals with dollar amounts and specific strategies to achieve them, often focused on a 12-18 month time period
  • Milestone dates and responsible parties that clarify when goals should be met and by whom
  • Inclusion of board and staff roles
  • Diverse funding streams considering individual donors (annual giving, major gifts, planned giving), corporate support, foundation support, earned revenue, and in some cases, special events
  • Reference to adopted fundraising policies (or plans to create them, review them or revise them)

What a fundraising plan is NOT:

  • A list of special events
  • An “evergreen” document with general descriptions of funding sources
  • An organizational budget

Less than one-third of all nonprofits with profiles in The Giving Partner have written fundraising plans.

Developing a useful document does not have to be a laborious or complicated project. And if you’re an all-volunteer organization, you’re not off the hook–the document is just as important for you. Consider the impact of getting everyone on the same page about what you need to raise and how you are going to do it. The usefulness of such a plan is truly immeasurable.

In addition to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, other foundations in our area including The Patterson Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation commit time and dollars to capacity building efforts to move the needle for impact. Endless resources exist online. And supportive networks of nonprofit colleagues are accessible through the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and other groups.

Kudos to the organizations energizing their teams with unified and thoughtful approaches to fundraising!

Did we love seeing our community raise more than $3,127,000 in 24 hours on May 6 and 7?  We absolutely loved it.  We are proud to live in a community with such inspiring causes, generous donors, and hardworking nonprofit board members, staff and volunteers.

As we look at our community’s great accomplishment in the 2014 Giving Challenge, here are a few things we loved watching–and they’re not about money.

    1. We became more knowledgeable about the world around us.
      Nature’s Academy is one of many organizations that used the Giving Challenge as a platform to educate the community about issues relating to its mission. Staff carefully planned a 30-day Facebook countdown to the Challenge featuring a different factoid about Southwest Florida’s environment or science education each day.  Donor thank you letters included support levels corresponding to marine species, complete with a short descriptions of the animals.  Kudos to Nature’s Academy and other nonprofits that infused learning in philanthropy all the way through.natures
    2. We watched community building in action.
      Charlotte County organizations came together—I mean really came together—for the Giving Challenge.  Connie Kantor dreamed up a collaborative effort to bring the community together, encouraging every organization in Charlotte County to showcase its programs and services at Charlotte Community Foundation during one hour of the campaign. We’re feeling grateful for the example she set.  Kudos to Tracy Hille (Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, Gabrielle Reineck (Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity) and Randy Dunn (Charlotte County Family YMCA) for their key roles in this partnership.

      AMIKids Build a Wall for Habitat for Humanity Charlotte County at the Community Foundation of Charlotte County During the Giving Challenge

      AMIKids Build a Wall for Habitat for Humanity Charlotte County at the Community Foundation of Charlotte County During the Giving Challenge

    3. We watched creativity emerge in unexpected ways.
      Some organizations exude creativity by nature–Realize Bradenton and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, for example. The Pines of Sarasota Foundation decided to depart from a more formal approach to messaging and produce some very creative videos (in-house) that shared the faces and services of The Pines in a way we haven’t seen before. The result was a super high-energy campaign that engaged residents, families of residents, board members, staff members, and volunteers in giving, sharing content and celebrating the feeling of community at The Pines.

There’s more. Stay tuned for our second list, and while you’re waiting, how about commenting on this post with some of the great things you noted during the Challenge?

They can be general observations about what you enjoyed seeing in our community or special “insider” information from your organization. We may publish them.

Enjoy your week!

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


Armed with aligned vision, goals and messaging, these nonprofit teams have set out for success in the 2014 Giving Challenge by working together:


Dr. Sandra Hughes, one of our community’s favorite governance consultants, and Michael Corley, senior consultant at The Patterson Foundation, will be judging this competition and awarding a $5,000 grant to the winning team.

They will be looking for the overall impact of the partnership through the lens of the goals and strategies set forth by the participating organizations.

Regardless of the outcome, major cool points to all of these nonprofits and their leaders–way to work together for the greater good of our entire community!