The power of some places undeniably inspires conversation, ease and possibility. When you enter them, they naturally create an invitation to participate.
A few years ago, leaders in Manatee County sought to create such a space for the thousands of people who have one common purpose: making our world a better place through giving. They recognized that the visions we each hold for our community may be different, but the need for a physical space to think big and dream together is the same.
Last year at this time, the Manatee Community Foundation moved into the result of this well-planned intention — a newly renovated 5,000-square-foot building made possible by hard work and many generous contributors.
If you can believe it, Manatee County is home to nearly 700 charitable nonprofit organizations that file the 990 or 990-N, the annual information forms required by the IRS.
They each have a charitable purpose connected to human services, our environment, health, youth development, the arts, civic engagement or education. And each is faced with the same limited resources — donors to give money, volunteers to give time, board members to govern, staff to execute vital programs and places to convene.
$16 millionThe amount in grants and scholarships awarded by the Manatee Community Foundation since 1998.
Within Manatee Community Foundation’s new building is a friendly and professional event room with new technology outfitted by the Knight Foundation and 100 seats provided by the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation. It is available for nonprofits and government to host forums, community conversations and important planning meetings at no cost to them.
What’s happened so far? Since July, more than 1,000 people have walked into the doors for gatherings where key decision-making takes place, ideas are shared and people build the connections they need to do the hard but essential work of community building.
Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee County held a forum during which our next generation of leaders could ask questions of Manatee County School Board candidates. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the City of Bradenton Police Department collaborated for a community discussion about the opioid and heroin crisis. Seven local animal welfare organizations met in a series of intense sessions to plan a group effort to vaccinate pets from low-income families.
Visible Men Academy, Turning Points and the Library Foundation are among those that held board retreats to lead their missions to even greater success. Every month, a free local “Manatee Connects” event is hosted during which nonprofit leaders exchange ideas and learn about a topic that can help them be more successful. These are only a few examples.
There are more than 750 community foundations in the United States, including one here in Manatee County.
There are more than 750 community foundations in the United States. Like all of them, Manatee Community Foundation is itself a charitable organization. It partners with individuals and businesses to make philanthropy more effective, supporting countless missions in the community. Although it has awarded $16 million in grants and scholarships since 1998, much of its work is about building connections that make things happen.
Just before Christmas, a generous donor committed $200,000 to Manatee Community Foundation’s new building to inspire matching contributions from others and raise the dollars needed to fully fund the community spaces. Ultimately, this gift and every other building contribution will benefit each citizen of Manatee County. The ripple effects of the magic happening inside open doors can be extraordinary.
If you want to learn more about local nonprofits and the difference we can make together, give me a call. I will give you a personal tour of 2820 Manatee Ave. W., and we’ll talk about your vision for Manatee County in a friendly space that invites your participation.