For Good: August Workshop Features Top Talent, Innovation In Tampa Bay's Nonprofits

As Director of Planned Giving at All Children's Hospital Foundation in St. Petersburg, Lydia Bailey has an actual budget and plentiful resources to promote her nonprofit's mission.

On the other end of the spectrum is Tiffany Faykus, who serves as Executive Director of Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco in Clearwater, where scrimping and stretching funds is part of her job.
Yet the two organizations have a lot more in common than not.

"Big or small, we're all out there competing for limited dollars,'' Bailey says. "We're all challenged with letting the public understand the importance of what we do, and why we need support.''

Staff and board members from nonprofits of all sizes in the Tampa Bay region will meetup August 26th at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts for the fourth annual Not For Profit Workshop.

The Workshop, founded by Philanthropists Zena Lansky and Warren Rodgers of Clearwater, aims to provide a gathering place for nonprofit thought leaders to network, share ideas and learn from each other. It is gaining ground as the go-to event in the Tampa Bay region for learning how to grow a successful nonprofit.

Because Lansky and Rodgers provide the bulk of the funding for the workshop and most sponsors and speakers volunteer their time and talent, the workshop costs participants only $25 – and that includes breakfast and lunch. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will welcome attendees.

A Long-Term Commitment

The founders bring a formidable background in their respective fields to the table, enabling them to convince local business leaders and other philanthropists to be part of the effort. Lansky is a surgeon and nutritionist who practiced medicine locally for more than 40 years; Rogers was a successful corporate executive, entrepreneur, and founder and president of two Florida nonprofits.

Since retiring in 2005, they have focused on expanding their philanthropy, mainly in health care and the performing arts. The workshop grew out of the idea that donating money may be essential in helping organizations thrive in the short-term, but assisting them in accomplishing their goals would be even more beneficial in the long-term.

"We both have had so much success in life, and we believe it's important for us to share our success with others,'' Rodgers says. They take this ambitious undertaking seriously. It's become a nearly full-time job to coordinate the workshop from one year to the next.

The number of attendees reflects the workshop's word-of-mouth success. In 2010, the workshop took place at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, drawing 387 participants from 188 organizations. The next year it moved to the Straz, jumping to 910 participants from 467 nonprofits. And last year at the Straz it exceeded all expectations, with 1,452 participants from 826 groups. Readers of Tampa Bay Magazine have voted it the "Best Philanthropic Program'' offered in the area.

Rogers, a stickler for details who spends countless hours cultivating supporters, calls the program "an ongoing work in progress'' that is evolving every year.
"We are constantly getting feedback and suggestions from our friends in the nonprofit community,'' he says. "And we both read, read, and read more to stay informed.''

Passion, Pride and Persistence

The purpose is to provide an infusion of new ideas and notable trends in sessions designed to be relevant within the workshop's reoccurring theme -- "Passion, Pride and Persistence.''

This year's sessions showcase more than 30 individual presenters and panelists. Speakers include Judith Lisi, president and CEO of the Straz; Philanthropist Les Muma and Robert Dutkowsky, CEO of Tech Data Corp. Breakout sessions include : Story Telling, Donor Cultivation, E-Philanthropy, Cause Marketing, Corporate Giving and Building A Highly Successful Giving Website. The workshop also offers plenty of time for networking.

Faykus of the Heart Gallery, who has juggled hats as a workshop planner, speaker and participant, says it’s one of the most meaningful programs she’s encountered as a nonprofit leader.

"There are several moments in the day when you will gain some knowledge,'' she says. "Even more important are the network possibilities. It's easy to feel alone when you're a nonprofit, and this is one place where you won't feel that way.''

During breaks in the sessions, Faykus will head to the tables set up by local smaller nonprofits, to make connections that could lead to collaborations in the future. With limited funds, "there is much more power in numbers.''

One of the tables will include representatives from the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Tampa Bay. Bailey of All Children's Hospital, a past president of that group, says it's a way for members to give back by sharing their resources on planned gift fundraising and enabling other professionals in accessing the best practices they need to be successful.

"Ultimately, that's what Warren envisions with this workshop. He's got the talent to attract high-level, experienced and creative people together in one place and in one day. Here's this huge brain trust assembled so we can all gain something out of this, whether we're giving knowledge or receiving it. It's an amazing undertaking.''

The workshop runs 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration is required. For more information, visit the workshop's website.

Michelle Bearden is an experienced multimedia journalist  and public speaker working in the Tampa Bay region. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

Read more articles by Michelle Bearden.

Michelle Bearden is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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