Jeff lytle

The Collier Community Foundation is in the midst of a public relations campaign championing philanthropy large and small.

The timing is strategic, coming as the last large segment of baby boomers is making plans for estates and wills.

If the foundation can tap into only a small fraction of that transfer of wealth locally, Collier non-profits could get a big boost toward sustaining their vital work in health care, the arts, dementia respite, hunger and much more.

The foundation campaign is waged across many platforms, including print, TV, social media and the foundation’s own newsletters and website. The foundation also is reaching out to professionals in the investment, banking and financial advisory fields to remind them of the various ways donors can make legacy gifts – such as to donor-defined, unrestricted funds or scholarship programs — and the tax advantages of doing so.

Serial philanthropists need little prodding, foundation leaders say, while recruiting others may pay huge additional dividends.

The goal is to attract three percent of wealth transfers to amass a $1 billion endowment that would allow $50 million in grantmaking per year – “supporting the programs that benefit our local youth, families, seniors and veterans, our environment and other community needs— forever!,” the foundation’s website says.

That $50 million would go toward the $400 million a year that Collier non-profits have to raise, says Foundation President/CEO Eileen Connolly-Keesler. She believes the three percent target should seem small to heads of estates as well as family beneficiaries.

Connolly-Keesler goes on to say a study shows nearly $35 billion is due to change hands locally in the next decade. That compares to an estimated $15 billion that was estimated to be transferred in the past 10 years. She says those numbers are conservative, because they do not include trusts.

The big numbers do not surprise Jim Morey, current foundation chairman and one of three highlighted spokespersons for the campaign. Morey cites sheer local population growth, the wealth of newcomers and an overall increase in values of real estate and investments.

The spokespersons represent different roles and expertise in the philanthropy landscape. Attorney Morey’s law firm, Bond, Schoeneck & King, deals in part with real estate and investment advising. Amy Hale is the president for the Southeastern U.S. for BMO Wealth Management. Francis Rooney is a construction industry executive, philanthropist and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, making him an ideal bearer of the message about you knowing better than government how to spend your money.

Hale advocates foundation connections because of the organization’s hard-earned reputation, which includes knowing the pulse and needs of the community. That pulse also has the attention of Morey, who says he is eager to see results of the foundation’s update of community needs, which initially included housing, the environment, technical education and mental health.

Hale also likes the impact that the foundation can add to investments in the community – now and later.

“The opportunity is large,” says Hale of the campaign. “We have to make sure important, meaningful conversations are held” and donors are reminded of the foundation’s “good work” to build up the community.

Rooney says he is sold on the foundation’s lead role amid emergencies such as Hurricane Ian and its emphasis on vetting Non-profits for low administrative costs or overhead.

But it is planning ahead to steer clear of excessive taxation that drives Rooney. “That’s smart for anyone,” he says.

“This is a very philanthropic community,” he observes, and giving should come naturally for those who love and appreciate Naples. That can grow into a culture, he says, citing the example set by the Naples Winter Wine Festival benefiting the health and well-being of children.

The campaign dovetails with the foundation’s new name, streamlined from the Community Foundation of Collier County. Also new is the logo and slogan, “Informed Giving. Powerful Results,” succeeding “For Good, Forever.”

Morey’s youthful appearance and board chairmanship made the first round of campaign ads stand out for the long-tenured foundation, and he says he would welcome more working-age people getting involved. “Pay it back,” he says. “Think about what this community has given us.”

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