A Primer on Local Philanthropy from Roxie Jerde

A Primer on Local Philanthropy
from Sarasota Community Foundation CEO Roxie Jerde

The state of local philanthropy is sound and improving, the Community Foundation of Sarasota’s CEO assured a LWV audience February 8.

Roxie Jerde delivered an entertaining account of the 40-year growth of her organization from a closet with a phone and an answering machine to its present asset base of $398 million. Along the way, she delivered a knowledgeable assessment of the local giving scene and the non-profits that benefit from it.

One of these is the Sarasota League of Women Voters, she pointed out, a new member of the Foundation’s Giving Partner. This on-line resource has two purposes: 1. To give local donors free, factual information on area non-profits; 2. To offer non-profits an opportunity to explain their mission and how they achieve it, by providing specific information on their governance, management and finances.

Over 18,000 people accessed the Giving Partner website last year, Ms. Jerde reported. That number is dwarfed by the 50,000 people who contributed $12 million ($5 million of that amount was donated by foundations) to the Foundation’s 24-hour Giving Challenge in 2018.

The next Giving Challenge will occur in 2020, she said. Its original purpose was to help non-profits build a data/donor base, Ms. Jerde explained. Those who participated all six years now have “huge donor bases” to access for both funds and guidance.

LWV SRQ president Carol Hartz told the breakfast meeting that the League has already reaped specific benefits from the information and opportunities offered by the Foundation’s on-line resources.

The Foundation also offers its donors and non-profit partners free training provided by a cadre of retired executives who work as consultants.

Speaking without benefit of notes, Ms. Jerde reeled off a string of local projects produced by targeted giving from individual donors. As one example, she cited a unique 6-week summer program begun six years ago to improve reading scores and reduce the “summer slump” for 62 students in one challenged Sarasota elementary school . The program is now serving 1,100 children from kindergarten to 3rd grade in four local schools. It also includes a Parent U., where students’ parents come to improve their skills. Real, measurable progress has been achieved by both students and parents, she reported.

Summing up, Ms. Jerde said, “we have learned that when a community’s non-profits are strong, it makes the community stronger.”