When Alisa Pettingell moved 12 years ago from Fort Lauderdale to Sarasota, one of the first things she noticed was the city’s rich philanthropic culture and its abundance of non-profit organizations.
“I think it’s an anomaly,” she says of Sarasota. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Our community is built on an amazing support system. With regard to philanthropy, we have so many options — whether it’s animals, children, arts or music — there’s something for everyone here.”
She says she used this culture as a way to get involved and become connected with her new community. She was able to find organizations to which she could donate, and she was also able to connect with other likeminded people in the area.
At one event, she remembers receiving a gift bag, which contained a $50 donation gift card from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, and she was impressed with the idea.
“Who wouldn’t want to have $50 to give to somebody?” she says. “It’s brilliant.”
After browsing the website, she says the foundation opened up an entirely new aspect of philanthropy for her, and she was able to learn about a variety of projects in town that needed funding.
“Where I have three or four main organizations I tend to support, Gulf Coast exposes me to things I would never have known about,” she says. “This is another venue for people to look at and think, ‘Wow, I can do this.’”
By offering donation opportunities at low costs, Gulf Coast Gives makes philanthropy more accessible for people of varying income levels. For Pettingell, philanthropy has become a family affair. She and her husband, Roger, enjoy being as involved as possible, and they’ve even begun to instill their philanthropic values in their two sons, ages 7 and 9. The children divide their allowance into three categories — spend, save and give — and they’ve already become passionate about donating their money to their areas of interest, such as animals and hunger.
“Instilling that value in them is important,” says Pettingell. “They have a great life, and they need to learn that it’s part of being a community. It’s your job to be responsible, to participate and be employed, be a good person and also to give.”
BY THE NUMBERS
12 — Years Pettingell has lived in sarasota
$50 — Starting amount of money on first Gulf Coast Community Foundation gift card
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