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Sisterhood for Good makes philanthropy affordable

The Lakewood Ranch nonprofit shows how powerful a group of women can be when they combine forces for a cause.

Sisterhood for Good is a group of women who have joined together to make philanthropy affordable.
Sisterhood for Good is a group of women who have joined together to make philanthropy affordable.
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Sisterhood for Good doled out 31 grants in the amount of $110,800 in 2023. 

It is an amount that was beyond the dreams of founder Angela Massaro-Fain when she organized the group.

Now she said the nonprofit's goal is to raise $130,000 to be awarded to area nonprofits in 2024. Raising that much money hasn’t come easy, but the nonprofit's popularity has pushed the membership to new records each year.

“We have over 264 volunteer members," Massaro-Fain said. "I call it affordable group philanthropy because our dues are only $225,” Massaro-Fain said. “This is your everyday woman who is working and wants to give back and be philanthropic, but maybe can’t write a $10,000 check. But they can write a $225 check, and it makes them feel good to give back.”

Out of the $225 collected from each member, $200 goes into the grant fund. The grants are only provided to nonprofits that serve Sarasota and Manatee counties.

About a dozen members make up the grants committee. They’re job is only to verify the information contained in the applications. All members vote on which organizations receive the grants each year. 

Sisterhood for Good was founded in 2011, but members decided to bank some money before starting the grant program. In 2013, the nonprofit gave away two $500 grants to the only two applicants: Hope Family Services and Samaritan Counseling Services of the Gulf Coast.

Last year, Sisterhood for Good received nearly 100 applications. Members don’t have to read each application, but they do have to read summaries of each grant. They have two weeks to cast their votes. 

“It’s a lot to review, so there’s a serious commitment there from our members, not just to fundraise and grow the fund so we can give more money each year, but also the commitment of reading through all of those grant requests,” Massaro-Fain said.

The grants have helped children, veterans, police officers, cancer patients and victims of trauma and domestic violence.

A $1,000 grant was awarded to We Care Manatee in 2015. The grant paid for 20 at-risk, uninsured women under the age of 40 to receive mammograms. One of those women was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Because of that detection, and through this organization that had other programs where physicians would assist with chemotherapy, radiation and so forth, this woman was able to get that medical treatment, and it saved her life,” Messaro-Fain said. “I still, to this day. get choked up talking about it because what we do can change people’s lives.”

The list of grant recipients isn't a select group. Any 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) nonprofit operating in Sarasota or Manatee counties can apply to receive up to $5,000, but the application page of Sisterhood for Good’s website politely asks applicants to opt out for a year if they’ve been a recipient for two years in a row. 

Each grant request is unique. In 2017, a grant for $992 was awarded to the Mark Wandall Foundation to help 62 children attend bereavement camp to cope with the loss of an immediate family member. 

In 2019, a $1,500 grant was awarded to Easter Seals Southwest Florida to provide equipment for their photography club, which gives adults with disabilities a creative outlet and an opportunity to earn income. The artists get a 70% cut when their photos sell. An earlier grant bought a baby buggy that can carry up to eight children for a nature walk.

"They're not the things that make the program work, but they're the extras that send it over the top," Vice-president of Philanthropy Jill Gass said. "A lot of times, other grants are decided by a small pool of people or one person, so when you've got a couple hundred ladies coming together to celebrate what you do, I find that the most rewarding."

Grants also provide for basic needs. In 2022, a $3,000 grant was awarded to Family Promise of South Sarasota County to stock their pantry and assist 300 families. In 2023, another $3,000 grant was awarded to Stillpoint Mission to buy a year’s supply of diapers.

While the women do tremendous good in the community, they also have a lot of fun. They meet for happy hour once a month and host two fundraisers a year that have become sell-out events: Designer Bag Bingo and an annual gala. The fundraisers are open to the general public.

Last year’s gala theme was Gatsby, and nearly every attendee dressed the part. This year’s theme is "Phantom: A Masquerade Ball." Go to for more information.

Tickets for the ball are on sale now. The event is scheduled for Feb. 16 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. The gala includes a gourmet dinner, cocktail hour, DJ, two surprise performances, and both a live and silent auction. 

“We have three trips this year and a phenomenal piece of jewelry for the live auction. We have a Tampa Bay Bucs big experience right down on the sidelines,” Massaro-Fain said. “We just have so much that there’s no way this can’t be a giant success, so we’re very excited about that.”



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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