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11 States in 11 Months: Southern Philanthropy in... Florida



Note: This post is the third of a series that will run throughout our 50th Anniversary year. Each month, we'll focus on philanthropy in one of the 11 states in the SECF footprint, using both current and historical data while highlighting a variety of voices. This month's state: Florida.


Florida Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Member: The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (founding member -- joined 1970)
Newest SECF Members: Cordelia Lee Beattie Foundation, John and Katherine Duda Foundation (both joined May 2018)
Number of SECF Members: 28




Learn more about Florida foundations from SECF's Southern Trends Report!


Voices from Florida

Debra Jacobs
President/CEO
The Patterson Foundation

On Florida's evolving philanthropic landscape: A decade ago, I had the honor of serving as chair of the Southeastern Council of Foundations, affording a wealth of opportunities to learn and lead. In my role as president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation throughout the years since I have witnessed the burgeoning growth and a trend in the culture of institutional philanthropic funding. Tax policies and the transfer of intergenerational wealth, along with the Florida lifestyle, have attracted an influx of wealth to the region, resulting in many new residents forming foundations and funding philanthropic endeavors.

Different forms of philanthropy have contributed to the upsurge happening in Florida and throughout the Southeast. New perspectives and ideas have guided efforts driven by collaboration, emphasized by mission and focused on creating lasting, sustainable impact. These approaches have presented opportunities to think beyond traditional grantmaking and develop creative solutions that effectively create long-term change for the communities we seek to uplift. The Patterson Foundation's approach aligns with these insights, as we focus our hearts and minds on strengthening communities by connecting and supporting mission-driven initiatives that address shared aspirations.

We are part of an emerging movement in philanthropy, one that is deeply engaged with society and the individual quest to generate lasting impact to change the world. The rise of crowdsourcing and impact investing span the ways that generosity is taking new forms. This movement, driven by emotion and undergirded by data and research, has propelled institutional funders to shift to a strategic approach. High-touch gatherings and high-tech tools such as social media have sparked engagement locally and beyond, enabling each individual to be part of creating a vibrant future. Today, everyone can be a philanthropist, and as we move forward, institutional philanthropy has the responsibility to connect with our communities to discover common threads that can then craft a path for creating a future that reflects our values and embraces possibilities. The heartbeat of generosity beats vigorously… let's work to keep it healthy!


Nate Cousineau
Program Officer
Quantum Foundation

What do you expect to be the biggest issues facing your foundation and/or Florida philanthropy in the next 10 years?

"Wealth is not new. Neither is charity. But the idea of using private wealth imaginatively, constructively, and systematically to attack the fundamental problems of mankind is new." -- John Gardner

Philanthropy, and its storied history, have been marked by continuous evolution. As we seek to ‘attack the fundamental problems of mankind,' visionaries and change-makers alike have been compelled to continue to adapt the way in which we carry out philanthropy.

Quantum Foundation, a health legacy foundation located in Palm Beach County, Florida, has seen its own evolution over the past 20 years. Charged with improving the health of our county's residents, our early form and investments were built around health providers, patients, and the walls around that interaction. Over the past eight years, we have built on the foundation that approach has laid and have begun to broaden the way we view health. Studies have shown that the social determinants of health -- socioeconomic factors, physical environment, etc. -- account for 50 percent (or more) of an individual's health. To that end, we have widened the boundaries of our funding in order to make an impact on these factors.

While philanthropy as a whole, and health legacy foundations like Quantum Foundation, have evolved over the years, I believe we are once again at an inflection point. A time where we must change direction in order to be able to truly address the root causes of inequity and imbalance in our society. In a world that is moving faster than ever due to technological advances, how can philanthropy remain relevant when we move at a snail's pace? Funding cycles and processes that require four, six, or even more months are antiquated and encumbering our ability to be responsive to the needs of our communities. Philanthropy must take a hard look in the mirror and consider the way in which we make grants. We can no longer simply operate through prolonged and drawn out funding practices, or we run the of risk being a taxi in a world of Ubers.

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