Dear Friends and Family:
Since first writing to you in mid-March about anticipating how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect our community, the world has drastically change. Across our community, we each have personally experienced the isolation of social distancing and the poignant fear of the unknown. While these are unsettling times for all of us, our community stands as connected and united as ever, embarking on the path to a brighter future paved by our shared hope.
Over the last several weeks, we have seen this hope take shape in our community’s efforts to safely navigate through the crisis, overcoming hurdles of uncertainty with great strength and courage. Donors have reached out with a remarkable outpouring of support, while nonprofit and community partners have rapidly mobilized their networks and resources to extend a lifeline to our most vulnerable.
At the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, we have enacted responses for immediate action, short-term relief, and long-term recovery to ensure our community remains healthy, resilient, and united so that we can thrive and realize our full potential, even in changing times.
While the below information has been updated since our initial COVID-19 announcement, you can view this initial response to learn more about access to our offices, room usage, investments performance, and nonprofit trainings.
In-depth details about each of these phases of our response are outlined below.
Season of Sharing
As an initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in mid-March we reactivated the time-tested and trusted Season of Sharing partnership with the Herald Tribune Media Group and multiple nonprofit agencies to help the most vulnerable individuals and families with immediate basic needs.
To bolster this network and to inspire local philanthropy, our partners at The Patterson Foundation provided a $500,000 match opportunity on top of an initial $500,000 contribution. In just 26 days, our community raised nearly $2 million with gifts ranging from $15 to $250,000, far surpassing the initial match and encouraging additional matching gifts. This included another $200,000 dollar-for-dollar matching gift from an anonymous donor and $100,000 from the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors. This match was also met in record time and now through Season of Sharing an additional $2.4 million is available to help individuals and families with rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and childcare.
Moreover, our Board of Directors has also approved critical grant funding to support our multiple nonprofit agencies and fiscal agents within the Season of Sharing network, ensuring they have the capacity and flexibility to address the evolving needs of their clients.
In the days ahead, this support will be so needed as our community grapples with record high unemployment. In times like this, philanthropy can truly shine, and we appreciate every gift of any size that can be made at this time to help our friends and neighbors.
Nonprofit Need Assessment & COVID-19 Survey | Results
Within the first weeks of the pandemic, the Community Foundation, along with other local foundations, sent out a Nonprofit Need Assessment & COVID-19 Survey to gather information and better understand the needs of social service organizations and nonprofits during the COVID-19 virus pandemic. With nearly 500 responses, we gained an important understanding about how our region’s nonprofit entities are being impacted across Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties, as well as within individual sectors.
We are sharing this report of the survey results to offer our community valuable data that imparts a broad perspective and sets a baseline of knowledge unique to our region. View results of the Nonprofit Need Assessment & COVID-19 Survey.
Community Resources and Help
We have created a webpage to provide the most up-to-date resources from trusted community partners that ensure everyone in our community has access to the support they need. This page will be updated regularly as these resources change. Find Community Resources and Help.
Grant Opportunities: Community Impact Grants
As one way to support local nonprofit and other community organizations engaging in short-term response and longer-term recovery, the Community Foundation has continued several long-standing grant opportunities to enhance the wellbeing and resiliency of grantees.
Grants aimed to bolster efforts for short-term recovery include:
- Community Impact Grants | Rolling grant cycles for requests up to $10,000 designed to help local organizations transform innovative ideas into successful programs or partnerships that address critical needs or improve a nonprofit's ability to fulfill its mission. Requests are reviewed bimonthly with an online, streamlined application.
2020 Giving Challenge
Another opportunity to strengthen our nonprofit community was the 2020 Giving Challenge, a 24-hour giving event that returned on April 28 and 29 to unify nearly 59,000 donors with an outpouring of support, raising $18.4 million for 686 participating nonprofit organizations in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties. With $10.9 million provided in community support and prizes from 58,947 donors and 106,570 total gifts, the 2020 Giving Challenge set a new standard for community generosity, outperforming the previous six challenges.
Enhancing this wave of generosity was a 1:1 match for all unique donations, up to $100 per donor, per organization, provided by our longtime partner, The Patterson Foundation. This matching opportunity amounted to $7.5 million in additional funds for local nonprofits, bringing the total amount raised to a $18.4 million.
Now more than ever, these unrestricted gifts will provide a vital lifeline and much needed flexibility for our nonprofit partners as we move forward together to strengthen our community, especially as the needs of those they serve evolve and change.
As we navigate what is looking to be a longer-term recovery, we anticipate multiple phases of funding and are collaborating with other local foundations to learn about different community needs. Together, our organizations will coordinate resources and grant opportunities to further support existing government and private measures, as well as those being developed.
In moments like this, philanthropy is truly a beacon of hope for so many people and organizations. While we face a future clouded by doubt and uncertainty, and it likely won't be easy in the short-term, it is up to each one of us to ensure our community remains healthy, resilient, and united so that we all can thrive and realize our full potential. Together.
Take care, be safe, and stay healthy.