Gifts For The Heart – Solid Foundation

by Karen Coney Coplin

Karen Coney CoplinWhat do all of us, whether native Neapolitans, or transplanted northerners, mid-westerners, or other, have in common? Our ‘Life in Naples’ is a particular shared characteristic. Don’t you feel a kinship with others, for instance, if you were to meet a new neighbor who happened to hail from your childhood hometown? Likewise, if you were on a cruise in the Mediterranean, and met – not an Italian Neapolitan, but a neighbor, say, from Park Shore – wouldn’t you also likely, and immediately, experience a sense of fellowship with your shipmate, simply by virtue of your shared community?

This geographical connection can serve as the basis for a hometown spirit of giving, which guides the underlying principles of the Community Foundation of Collier County – “Strengthening Our Community Forever.” If, as the maxim goes, there is safety and strength in numbers, the Community Foundation adheres to its community building mission by uniting people, and non-and for-profit institutions serving local needs. This accomplishment is attained working with individuals, families, trust and estate professionals including accountants, attorneys and financial planners, in conjunction with the full time staff of the CFCC and its Board of Directors and committees.

For those new to Naples, the Community Foundation is solidly established, looking to celebrate its 30th anniversary of its founding (this will occur in 2015). One year after it was founded, the first grants were awarded including seed money to fund a brand new agency, The Shelter for Abused Women. Other funding was directed to a Cambier Park band shell; and a pilot recycling program for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. All of these groups and landmarks are wellknown in today’s Naples and point to the  Foundation’s forwardthinking modus operandi, even as the ‘new game’ in town, back in 1985. At the time, community foundations, nationwide, were not a new concept (the first known foundation was founded in Cleveland nearly 100 years ago, in 1914), though new to Naples. In 1985, Naples was on its way to being established nationwide as a resort destination. The goal of the Community Foundation of Collier County, as with counterparts in sister cities to Naples, then and now, is to put charitable contributions to the highest and best use, for the maximum benefit.

Karen Coney Coplin Column HeadTo that end, the Community Foundation locally has put into place “Vital Signs” to track the success of grantmaking from funds including the Community Impact Fund. This addresses recipient organizations’ programs for local basic needs, the arts, education, environment, healthcare and, a women’s and girls’ needs fund. CFCC shared a startling statistic, which is as eye-opening as it is heartbreaking: 31% of the children under age 18 are living at or under, the poverty line in Collier County. To find out how you can make a difference with this statistic, or pursue another philanthropic goal, contact the CFCC for assistance in managing charitable funds, grow endowments (personal or corporate) and grantmaking.

For Life in Naples’ readers, there are many ways to be involved whether as a donor, volunteer, grantor organization (creating a fund) and even as a grant applicant. Presently, the CFCC oversees 400 funds and manages over $64,000,000 in assets. Nine million dollars in grants were distributed to non-profit organizations in the current fiscal year ($2.2M in the first quarter alone), which reflects a 50% increase over fiscal year 2012. Increased giving does point to an economy at large which is more robust. In addition to Naples, nearby communities served include those just outside the city borders: Golden Gate City, Marco Island, and, a bit further afield, Goodland and Everglades City. Residents of the “ee’s” also comprise part of the Community Foundation’s focus: Chokoloskee and Immokalee. Residents of these communities might come into contact with the CFCC by dialing 211 ( to receive assistance for housing or utilities needs, food, health care, legal and consumer help, and employment information.

The Community Foundation of Collier County has offices at 2400 Tamiami Trail N., Suite 300, Naples, FL 34103. The phone number is 239.649.5000 and its web address is: Readers searching online can select a recipient department/addressee based upon their level of interest or category of involvement (donor, volunteer, or to establish a fund, as examples).

Upcoming events include the Power of the Purse Dec. 4 at the Grey Oaks Country Club; and, in 2014, the Celebration of Philanthropy on Feb. 28 at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; and the signature Women of Initiative Awards on March 31, also at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club. More immediately, the Thanksgiving holiday is just weeks away. The Community Foundation of Collier County expresses its gratitude for their donors for, without them, “change and positive impact in this community would not be possible.”

Perhaps the dictionary is not wholly accurate, as Community Foundation may well be the perfect adjective to describe so many things important to Naples: a commitment for the common good, tending to unmet needs, and building a better future for all those whose life IS in Naples.

Email Karen at Non-profits, please feel free to contact me to share your organization’s ‘New Year’s Resolution” for consideration in an upcoming issue.

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