Giving Challenge 2024: Ready. Set. Give!

Guest Correspondence

Graphic courtesy the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

The world is gearing up for the 2024 summer Olympics, and soon athletic pageantry will captivate many on screens large and small. But we know that for the athletes, the journey to the Big Games has been one of long-term tenacity, intense training and trials.  Some contests will last just seconds, but the national pride and marvel of human’s capacity for greatness will continue to inspire for generations to come. 

The upcoming Giving Challenge, from noon to noon April 9-10, bears some resemblance to the Olympics. As with the Games, the Challenge is fleeting, but leading up to the event, these 724 participating nonprofits have worked diligently to develop their fundraising and donor stewardship strategies. In doing so, they’ve gotten stronger. What’s more, the positive impact gained through the exciting giving opportunity will endure long into the future. 

As awe-inspiring as the Olympics are, they’d be just another sports competition without the eyes and energy of people from around the world joining in as spectators. The same is true for the Giving Challenge: it relies on the participation of all of us—in this case, not just as spectators, but as vital contributors. 

The Patterson Foundation will match all unique gifts $25-$100 dollar for dollar, so community members who’ve always wanted to make a difference can do so and have their donations doubled.  While it provides the chance to support important causes, the Giving Challenge also shines a bright spotlight on our nonprofit community and the many ways in which these organizations enhance the quality of life we enjoy on the Suncoast. To that end, several nonprofits are hosting Pop-Up Giving Stations, free, community-wide celebrations fostering connections and providing creative showcases and activities. 

This will be the ninth Giving Challenge the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has presented since 2012. Over eight previous challenges, this community has raised $75 million in unrestricted funding for nonprofits, delivering transformative results to our community. With its generous match, The Patterson Foundation has incentivized giving, while also contributing more than $30 million throughout Giving Challenge history. 

The Patterson Foundation’s match is one reason philanthropists Joe and Mary Kay Henson decided in 2022 to donate $100 to each of the 667 organizations that took part in 2022. The Hensons have committed to repeat that strategy for 2024, inviting others to join the so-called “100 Percent Club.” So far, three others have joined them, bringing “club” membership up to four. Advisors to the Frank G. Berlin Fund, trustees managing the H. Gladstone McKeon Trust and the advisor to the Sarah Greer Mayer Fund have all committed to giving $100 to every participating nonprofit. Their combined gifts of $289,600 will become $579,200 with the match—and the Challenge is still three days away.

What inspires their giving, aside from the matching opportunity and love of community, is the transparency provided through The Giving Partner, a searchable online database of charitable organizations. Each nonprofit taking part in the Giving Challenge has an updated profile in The Giving Partner, which maintains the latest information about and organization’s financials, leadership and mission, ensuring that all are in good standing with the IRS and in a position to fulfill their commitment to donors. 

Since the inception of the Giving Challenge, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has not collected any administrative fees for presenting the opportunity; the only fee donors have the option of covering is the credit card transaction, a fee that more than 90 percent of donors over time have gladly absorbed. This is important to note because, ultimately, the people served are the most important factor among all of these impressive numbers. 

Come to think of it, here’s where the similarities between the Giving Challenge and the Olympics end. While viewers imbue the Olympics with mythological momentousness, it is the athletes who remain the heroes of the Olympic story. In the case of the Giving Challenge, although the spotlight is on our tremendous nonprofit organizations, each donor taking part has the chance to contribute to transformative change. And just think of the impact each donor makes on those that nonprofits serve while delivering on their mission.  The Giving Challenge offers each of us the true potential to be a winner for our community, making our community a brighter place for all who call it home, now and for generations to come. 

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Graphic courtesy the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

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