Philanthropic organization hopes to encourage smaller donors to become active.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor
It’s a lot like a watching a cross-section of parishioners when the collection basket makes its way back and forth through a church.
Some give more than others, Eric Kaplan says, but almost everyone gives something. And in return, they get the same satisfaction, whether they parted with a $50 bill or spare change.
“It’s our experience,” the co-trustee of the Louis and Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust told a room packed with representatives from social-service agencies from around Sarasota on Friday afternoon, “that if everyone, even those who are needful, feel good about doing good, whether it’s a dollar or 2 or 5, they feel good about themselves, and we want to incentivize that.”
And that’s exactly what the organization is doing in trying to close the gap left by public sources of funding that Kaplan said are increasingly harder to come by.
The trust has embarked on a campaign in 2020 that sets aside $500,000 to match dollar-for-dollar contributions between $5 and $500 for nonprofit agencies in the social service, social welfare, K-12 education and healthcare sectors. The trust will absorb all costs, including fees charged by PayPal or other administrative overhead.
The idea is based on getting more people involved in philanthropy than the traditionally well-heeled donors, Kaplan told the dozens of people in attendance at the trust’s downtown campus.
“It works in politics, as Bernie (Sanders) said, and it needs to work here in the community where we can help the people we see every day,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan, who rolled out the program alongside co-trustee Dr. R. Dean Hautamaki, said the Sarasota area can look far more successful than it is, with shimmering bay views, sailboats bobbing on its waters and gleaming towers framing its boundaries. But, he said, it’s not hard to see the flip side.
“The need is immense,” Hautamaki said. “It was kind of surprising to both of us growing up here in service that there was a great need at many levels. And so from a healthcare standpoint, when I look at people in a different view outside the hospital and outside the office, you know there are pressing needs for individuals not only who need healthcare but also need support with mental health.”