Donna Hoffman shares her thoughts on volunteerism in the Orlando Sentinel

donna hoffmanOrlando Sentinel Editorial Board Member, Donna Hoffman, shares her thoughts on volunteerism and the giving spirit of our Central Florida Community. “It feels good to help others. Volunteer efforts are appreciated and rewarding and brings out the very best in us- our kindness and our humanity – an frequently bring out the best in others.” I couldn’t agree more.

Donna knows the joy of giving. Donna serves as the President of the Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic raising money to support. The Friends were recognized at National Philanthropy Day as a YMCA Central Florida Volunteerism Honoree. This category honors individuals, groups or organizations who demonstrate an exceptional passion for volunteerism, along with a commitment to the advancement of philanthropy throughout the community.

The Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic is the orchestra’s official volunteer organization, providing opportunities to be a hands-on volunteer, enjoy special events and meet new friends with similar interests. Since their initial meeting in 1996, the Friends have raised nearly $1 million in support of the orchestra. Additionally, they contribute nearly $200,000 per year in in-kind services.

Read her editorial comment in the Friday, November 10, 2017 Orlando Sentinel:

If you need help with expanding your volunteer base, contact me. I can help.

Victory Cup Initiative

VCIThis morning I took off my fundraising hat and put on my funder hat, as I had the opportunity to be part of the review process of applications for the Victory Cup Initiative (VCI).

The VCI is a platform where companies come together for philanthropic investing with a twist. This unique event is designed to provide a high-profile opportunity for charitable organizations to tell their stories, build their strategies and partner with business and community leaders to make a difference in Central Florida. During this breakfast event, 10 of Central Florida’s top nonprofits present a 2 minute, 30 second pitch on who they are, how they are changing lives and how they are serving the community to a room of philanthropists who will vote to determine the winner of the $20,000 grand prize. Organizations also compete for second ($15,000) and third place ($10,000) financial awards. All remaining organizations will be awarded a $1,000 participation grant. The Ten finalists are selected through an application process to compete in main event for cash awards. In its first two years, the victory cup initiative received applications from 132 nonprofits and distributed $84,000 in awards to 20 local nonprofits.

IMG_0975 (1)About 6 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Ashley Vann, VCI Founder, as part of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Florida Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day. VCI was to be recognized as an honoree in the AFP social enterprise and community service category. This honor recognizes organizations – specifically non-profits, civic or service groups – that are actively engaged in philanthropy through social enterprise or a “hybrid” nonprofit business model, or engaged in exceptional community service.

Ashely’s enthusiasm was very infectious. I wanted to be involved. So, I signed up to be part of the application judging committee. The 2018 event won’t take place until February 7, but the behind the scenes efforts are well under way including the application process, which is where I came in.

The application was fairly simple compared to most grant application. Each of the applicates were asked:

What is your organization’s mission?

Briefly describe your major programs and activities.

What is your elevator speech? (90 seconds or less description)

Give one of the best examples of a constituent has been positively impacted by your organization.

Describe your organization’s vision for furthering your mission over the next 3-5 years.

I received 10 applications via a secure portal. The evaluation review instructions called for me to rank 1-10 how I felt about the nonprofit answered the following questions:

Does the nonprofit have a compelling story that needs to be shared with the community?

What is the magnitude of the impact of the nonprofit organization’s programs and activities?

How comprehensive is the nonprofit organization’s programs and activities?

How comprehensive is the nonprofit organization’s vision for serving their constituents?

Then the last question was: Should this nonprofit organizations be one of the finalist which presents in the Victory Cup Initiative 2018? Yes. No. Or Maybe.

VCI $20KSounds simple, right? No! It was a lot harder than it looked. I was familiar with a couple of the applicants, but there a couple I had never heard about. None of which I have any association with, or I would have recuse myself. All were worthy of support, but I couldn’t just send them all along to in the finalist. I felt I had a responsibility to really think about these charities and the causes they represented and what they said in their application. There was a lot of money on the line, and the opportunity to spread awareness for their cause.

The VCI is dedicated to equipping Central Florida nonprofits with the skills and training to better tell their story and ultimately raise more funds. Now that is a cause I can get behind.  Here’s the website is you want to learn more or buy tickets for the 2018 VCI.

If you are reading this and your organization didn’t get into the finalist, don’t get mad at me. I only reviewed 10 of the applications, there were 20 other reviewers. Giving away money is hard. I am glad I had my small part. It was a learning experience. Not only did I learn about some really neat nonprofit organizations, but I gained experience looking at applications through funders eyes.

Ashley’s passion for uniting donors with the causes they care about sparked her idea for the inaugural VCI. Ashley knows the joy of giving.

If your organization could use help in spreading the message about your cause, call me. Let’s talk.

Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida is being honored National Philanthropy Day as an Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Creating Change Honoree. This honor is presented to nonprofit organizations that successfully strengthens and empowers a specific demographic or population in Central Florida. DSACF provides services to individuals with Down syndrome, their parents, their siblings, and community partners. By showing the community that individuals with Down syndrome are just as capable and in fact, very valuable members of our community, the DSACF advocates in a very impactful way. Janet Endres Caramello, DSACF Executive Director, is shown here in a behind the scenes photo from the taping of a video done at WUCF TV to appear at NPD. Tickets are now available for National Philanthropy Day. You don’t want to miss this breakfast celebration of the giving spirit in our community on November 1 at the Ritz Carlton. #thisisphilanthropy #NPD2017

November 1, 2017- National Philanthropy Day

NPD Committee
The 2017 AFP Central Florida National Philanthropy Day Committee

Today, November 1, 2017, is National Philanthropy Day, as declared by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. This morning’s event celebrating the giving spirit of our community was a sellout crowd at the Ritz Carlton, Grand Lakes. David Odahowski, Edyth Bush Foundation Executive Director, is quoted as saying, “Nothing says philanthropy like the Ritz.” Committee members worked hard all year long to make this event the best NPD ever. Proceeds benefit the Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Florida Chapter providing service to its membership which draws from Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties.

I had the honor of interviewing honorees for this year awards at the taping at the WUCF facility. The honorees, or the representatives, were asked several questions surrounding their organization and mission. When asked what to look for if they were giving advice on where to give back, over and over again they interviewees talked about finding a passion… a cause that they could really dive into. The organization represented came from a wide range of nonprofit sectors. For example;

  • Franklin’s Friends focus is on animal welfare.
  • Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic raises money to help with the performance art of the Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Impower Inc has its mission focusing on child welfare and the innovation of telehealth and tele-psychiatry.
  • Lighthouse works is focused on employment opportunities for the blind and visually impaired.
  • The Victory Cup Initiative is helping local nonprofits learn to tell the story and expand their mission audience.
  • Reed Nissan was recognized for their gift-in-kind donation of television advertisement to support local causes. Something most nonprofits simply can’t afford.
  • Orlando Health was recognized for their employees’ community in service to ove 199 local nonprofit boards and to their leadership during the 2016 Pulse tragedy.
  • Faith- Christina Duncan was honored as the Youth in Philanthropy in her work with the Downs Syndrome Association of Central Florida, showing having Downs Syndrome hasn’t held her back from making a positive impact in the community.
  • A Gift For Teach has expanded their impact on local teachers through the innovative Pencil Boy Express bus bring teaching tools and supplies directly to the schools.

And then there was the Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Mr. Harvey Massey, whose video described his humble beginnings and how his wife, Carol, his bride of 54 years was his greatest champion. He also talked about giving back. He has a painting in his office of a giant oak tree with massive branch canopy with the quote, “A great man plants seeds of a tree knowing he will never sit in its shade.”

Orange Appeal Philanthropy Edition Front Page-page-001Please see the program for the 2017 National Philanthropy starting on page 125 of the Orange Appeal magazine November/ December edition. Orange Appeal Magazine is a locally operated and woman owned magazine with each issue filled with women to watch representing a diverse range, from the area’s top business leaders to industrious entrepreneurs as well as key players in the nonprofit arena. Much appreciation goes to Christi Ashby, Kate Slentz and their team for their hard work to put together the 2017 November/December Edition. If you don’t receive this magazine, you need to subscribe! Thank you, Orange Appeal Magazine, for your continued support of AFP Central Florida and National Philanthropy.

Today was a great day to celebrate giving.

Noted author and fundraiser, Hank Rosso, called fundraising the gentle art of teach others the joy of giving. Today’s award winners and honorees know the joy of giving.

If you want to cultivate the joy of giving and a culture of philanthropy in your nonprofit, organization, contact me. Let’s talk.

Women Matter

Women-Matter-Time-to-accelerate-Ten-years-of-insights-into-gender-diversity-page-001Globally, women represent 50% of the world’s working-age population, but generate only 37% of GNP. $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by closing the gender gap.

For a decade, Women Matter and Power of parity reports from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) have explored the economic impact of increased gender diversity at macro and micro levels and how to make change happen in corporations. This anniversary publication highlights ten key insights from these ten years of research. Read the entire edition here.

AFP Legislative Alert: Tax Reform Plan

AFP ColorThe Association of Fundraising Professionals is calling on U.S. members and other interested parties to provide comments online about the new GOP Tax Reform Framework that could reduce giving by $13 billion every year. Go to the GOP Tax Reform Survey website and provide your comments on how the tax reform plan will affect your organization.

The GOP Tax Reform Framework, developed by the White House and key Republican Members of Congress, calls for the standard deduction to be doubled. That change would cut the number of taxpayers who itemize from 33 percent to just 5 percent—a loss of 30 million itemizers! Itemizers account for 82 percent of all giving in the U.S.

Research by Independent Sector and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy estimates that doubling the standard deduction would reduce giving by $13 billion annually. That figure represents a significant decrease—more than 6 percent of all individual giving!

AFP’s Response

To address this issue, AFP is calling for Congress to include the universal charitable deduction in the tax reform plan. A universal charitable deduction would allow all taxpayers, regardless of whether they itemize or not, to take a charitable deduction.

The same research above shows that adding a universal charitable deduction to the increased standard deduction results in overall giving increasing by $5 billion! The powerful effect of the universal charitable deduction is enough to overcome any loss in giving when the standard deduction is doubled.

What You Can Do

Go to the GOP Tax Reform Survey website and provide comments about a) what a loss in charitable giving would mean for your organization and b) the importance of adding the universal charitable deduction.

Please contact the AFP Public Affairs Department at for any questions, and thank you for participating in this important public policy initiative.

Since 1960, AFP has inspired global change and supported efforts that generated over $1 trillion. AFP’s nearly 34,000 individual and organizational members raise over $100 billion annually, equivalent to one-third of all charitable giving in North America and millions more around the world. For more information or to join the world’s largest association of fundraising professionals, visit