Inspiring People: Philanthropy in Southwest Florida

What is Philanthropy?

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, philanthropy is defined as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially active effort to promote human welfare.” Additionally, philanthropy is “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes,” or “an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.”

What is a Philanthropist?

The definition of philanthropy says that one has to have a goodwill to humankind and an interest in promoting human welfare. This can be accomplished in a multitude of different ways. It is important to remember that a philanthropist has to make an “active effort to promote human welfare.” This means that a philanthropist is not exclusively someone who donates a lot of money to humanitarian causes. A philanthropist makes a significant effort to change a societal problem, in the best way that he or she can. A philanthropist finds an issue that resonates with them, and do what they can to help. Philanthropy is about dedication to humanitarian issues. It is not always about money as most people think. A philanthropist is a person who donates time, money, experience, skills or talent to help create a better world. Anyone can be a philanthropist, regardless of status or net worth.

Are Philanthropy and Charity the same thing?

The words charity and philanthropy are often used interchangeably, but there’s a difference between the two.

Basically, charity and philanthropy both seek to accomplish the same outcome–to address needs and make the world a better place–but the method that philanthropic entities and charitable entities each use to reach that outcome is different. 

Charity refers to the direct relief of suffering and social problems.  

Philanthropy systematically seeks out root causes of these issues and endeavors to find a solution.

Think about philanthropy and charity as two different approaches to solving the same problems. One isn’t better or worse than the other; they are overlapping strategies that are equally essential to the nonprofit sector.

The abundance of generosity and effective nonprofits in our community constantly work to make Southwest Florida a better place for everyone. Events are a lifeline for nonprofits in Southwest Florida–and they are also a lot of fun! SWFL hosts everything from the top galas, to luncheons, to festivals that support your cause. Now what better way to party than for a reason and a purpose?

Having trouble figuring out which charity you’d like to help? I recommend contributing to something that you are passionate about or that has a deep and personal meaning to you. Want to check out a local event for a specific charity? Perfect. Gulfshore Life Magazine is one of the most recognized magazines in SWFL. They are huge on recognizing local nonprofits and helping connect donors and volunteers with causes they care about. You can pick up a copy of their magazine at Barnes and Noble, CVS, Fresh Market, Publix, Whole Foods or Walgreens. Or you can visit them online at and check out the calendar of events that they have posted with all kinds of fun and exciting activities around SWFL.

Here is a list of local nonprofits in Collier County and Lee County courtesy of Gulfshore Life Magazine.

Some of my favorite places are:

Golisano Children’s Hospital 

Golisano Children’s Hospital, which is adjacent to HealthPark Medical Center, is the only children’s hospital between Tampa and Miami and is home to the region’s only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It includes comprehensive pediatric services including a 24-hour pediatric emergency department, hematology-oncology unit, milk lab, regional Perinatal Intensive Care Center, and Level II and Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Golisano Children’s Hospital provides vital health care for children from infancy through age 18.

Phone: 239-343-KIDS (5437)

9981 S Healthpark Dr, Fort Myers, FL 33908

The Immokalee Foundation Inc.

Provides a range of educational programs that build pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring, tutoring and life-skill development that leads to economic independence.

CEO: Noemi Y. Perez

Phone: 239-430-9122

2375 Tamiami Trail N., Suite 308, Naples, FL 34103

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

Hellen Keller

Southwest Florida is one of the most beautiful places to live. It’s not just the gorgeous beaches and beautiful sunsets that make it special. The Southwest Florida area has an inherently known philanthropic community with an extremely big heart for those less fortunate.  We have an extraordinary group of locals helping each other by sharing resources for the common good. I ask that you please think about those who are in such desperate need today, and make a gift to your favorite nonprofit. Let our history, and your legacy, remember this time when generosity changed the world. Your philanthropy is needed now, more than ever.