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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018 3 years ago

Fundraising efforts pull at Longboat wallets

Three major fundraising efforts are raising money for town improvements this summer: the Historical Society, the Longboat Key Foundation and pickleball players
by: Bret Hauff Staff Writer

If philanthropy is something that interests Longboat Key residents, their options are broad.


The arts?


Three fundraising efforts — put forward by the Longboat Key Historical Society, the Longboat Key Foundation and the Longboat Key chapter of the USA Pickleball Association — are all vying for private donations, and it’s up to Longboat residents to help them meet their funding goals.

The Longboat Key Historical Society is seeking donations to open its first headquarters on Broadway Street in the shells of a pair of historical Whitney Beach cottages.

The Longboat Key Foundation will soon begin seeking money to build an Arts, Cultural and Education Center at town center.

The Pickleball Association is collecting donations to match town funding for four public pickleball courts on the island.

The Historical Society has raised $70,000 and needs another $70,000 before it can open its doors; the Longboat Key Foundation will seek $19 million in funding to begin construction of the Arts, Cultural and Education Center; and the Pickleball Association has gathered about $10,000 toward a $100,000 goal to be reached by 2020.

And Longboat Key is a philanthropic community. In fiscal year 2017-18 alone, the town received nine private donations totaling $265,717.

So in an effort to give Longboat residents a road map to local philanthropic efforts, here’s a breakdown of what each of the projects is trying to achieve, the obstacles to reaching that goal and how to donate to each of these opportunities.

Pickleball courts

The town of Longboat Key has made an offer to pickleball players: You raise $100,000 and we’ll match it. That town money is earmarked for 2020 to build four pickleball courts on the island, to be operated by the town’s Longboat Key Public Tennis Center.

Tom Diener

And although the pickleball players of Longboat Key have gotten pledges of between $6,500 and $10,000, fundraising has slowed as pickleball players have scattered across the country for the summer, said Tom Diener, who is organizing the effort.

“People are still talking about it,” Diener said. “When we reconvene come fall, and have a better feel of where the town stands, I think we can put together a more concerted effort.”

For Diener, that means a more defined plan from the town, including a refined cost and potential locations for the new courts. 

Diener reminds potential donors that his project offers more that just access to a new sport..

“I think one of the things pickleball has going for it now — pickleball is at least a revenue-generating activity,” Diener said. “There is a return on the budget.”

Pledges for donations to the effort to build more pickleball courts on Longboat Key can be sent to Tom Diener at [email protected].

Historical Society

Donations to the Longboat Key Historical Society came to a halt after the nonprofit reached the first financial milestone, allowing two historic cottages to be moved to the home of its future headquarters on Broadway Street, said Michael Drake, president of the Historical Society.

Michael Drake

“I think because there is no historical society open, they [residents] don’t feel compelled to get into their checkbooks to get thousands of dollars needed to keep this thing going,” Drake said. “Trying to sell products when you’re closed doesn’t work.”

So, in an effort to change that, Drake said he pleaded with his board of directors to change its goal from raising more than $400,000 to purchase the property where the buildings stand to a more manageable goal of $70,000 to get the buildings open to the public.

“I think most people need something that’s alive and well and open and functioning before they feel safe about sending [money], no matter what the amount is,” Drake said.

The list of needs includes painting, roofing, plumbing, wiring, air conditioning and ramps for access. The hope is that funding will come before Jan. 1, when the Historical Society plans to open its doors to the public.

Donations to the Historical Society can be sent to 521 Broadway, Longboat Key, FL 34228, left in the locked mailbox at that property or given online at

Arts, Cultural and Education Center

The town of Longboat Key has partnered with Ringling College of Arts and Design and the Longboat Key Foundation to build a center for the arts and education that’ll cost more than $19 million.

The town has made its contribution to the project — it purchased the land where the building will stand for $5 million. And Ringling has committed to funding the project too, financing the planning aspects of the project and offering to operate the facility once it opens.

Warren Simonds

The rest — funding for the building itself — is up to Longboat Key residents. But fundraising hasn’t begun for this project. Longboat Key Foundation Vice Chairman Warren Simonds said the nonprofit wants to know what it’s offering donors before it solicits donations.

“We want to be very specific about what this project is and what its going to do for Longboat Key,” Simonds said.

But that doesn’t mean the Foundation hasn’t started. The nonprofit has partnered with Ringling College to draft a feasibility study, or strategic plan, for its fundraising efforts. That includes asking well-known philanthropists whether they’d be interested or not. “We’re getting a very positive response,” Simonds said.

Fundraising efforts are planned to begin in September or October, Simonds said. If anyone wants to donate before then, money can be sent to the Sarasota Community Foundation.


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I’m a Longboat Key Staff Reporter. I write stories about how decisions and events affect the island, its leaders and its citizens. I received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Emerson College, where I wrote for The Boston Globe. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 333.

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