Philanthropy in uncertain times: How, and where, to make a difference


At this point each year, Southwest Florida’s philanthropic scene starts to explode with fundraising galas and special events.

The continued presence of COVID-19, however, is reshaping philanthropy here and across the nation. Formal fundraising galas, the type of black-tie affairs where nonprofits can raise $1 million or more in a single night, will be few and far between.

Instead, nonprofits are turning toward virtual events while identifying new opportunities to connect with and recognize their supporters. For example, Guadalupe Center’s Circtacular on Jan. 21 will be a livestreamed, circus-themed virtual event that captures the excitement and energy of the circus while demonstrating Guadalupe Center’s impact on education and poverty in Immokalee.

With no definitive end to the world’s health and economic crisis, philanthropic-minded individuals still recognize the community’s needs and the potential impact of their generosity. Without question, 2020 has been a challenging year for nonprofits. However, Southwest Florida is home to successful business leaders and entrepreneurs who value philanthropy and cherish opportunities to provide resources that will help nonprofits carry out their missions.

Below are four tips to consider when deciding how, and where, to make a difference in the community we call home.

Select a cause

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofits registered with the IRS. Nonprofits represent the arts, culture, humanities, education, research, environment, health care, human services, religion and many others.

When giving, consider causes near and dear to your heart. Sharing a personal connection with a cause strengthens the bond and creates a vested interest in an organization’s success.

Evaluate organizations

Donors want to feel confident that an organization is spending their contributions wisely while accomplishing its mission. Charity Navigator offers 4-star ratings to signify an organization’s financial strength, accountability and transparency. GuideStar offers platinum ratings to nonprofits that chart their success and accomplishments using verifiable data.

When giving, consider local nonprofits. These boots-on-the-ground organizations are the pulse of a thriving community. They may have relatively small budgets compared to national nonprofits, but they have big dreams and aspirations.

Determine the purpose

Learn about an organization’s specific needs and how your donation will help accomplish the nonprofit’s goals and objectives. Look for organizations that collaborate with others in the community. Ask for a tour. Nonprofits are proud to demonstrate their success.

Where possible, consider making an unrestricted gift to provide nonprofits with the greatest flexibility. Many organizations are unable to host traditional fundraising events and they’re facing uncertain financial futures, so flexibility is vital to helping the causes you care about.

Choose a gift type

Monetary donations and even multi-year pledges are among the easiest ways to contribute while also providing the most flexibility for an organization. Planned giving allows donors to create a legacy through appreciated stock, charitable rollover, charitable lead or remainder trusts, endowments and beneficiary designations.

When giving, consider an organization’s long-term needs. Gifts are needed today, tomorrow and beyond. Blended gifts can incorporate both cash and planned gift vehicles, allowing you to support the organization now and into the future. Supporters have designated Guadalupe Center, for instance, as beneficiaries in wills, trusts, life insurance policies and retirement plans, thus reducing the size of donors’ taxable estates before assets are transferred to heirs.

Nonprofits in Southwest Florida rely on philanthropy to carry out their work. Although 2020 introduced a host of new fundraising challenges, we’re blessed to live, work and play in a community that always comes through in times of need.

READ MORE: How to Give: Your Gift is Needed Today, Tomorrow and Beyond

fundraising– By Kelly Krupp, Senior Director of Philanthropy at Guadalupe Center