The Miami Foundation’s CEO, Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, discusses how business and wealth migration have reshaped giving in Miami, where the city’s greatest opportunities lie, and what to expect during Give Miami Day 2023.
Anyone who has spent time in Miami over the past few years may feel like the city is awash with change. More people. More businesses. More buildings. More traffic!
As Miami evolves, so too has the community’s philanthropic landscape. Major corporations are putting down roots here and investing in worthy nonprofits. Executives are settling in and becoming engaged. Entire families are stepping up to support causes they believe in.
These investments are a blessing, because with a changing city comes new needs – and new challenges. Miami has many strengths, but there is still work to be done in areas ranging from affordability and economic mobility to education and environmental resilience.
Thankfully, Miami is home to one of the nation’s most prolific community foundations: The Miami Foundation. Since 1967, the foundation has been building Miami’s philanthropic, civic, and leadership backbone, with more than half a billion dollars invested in the community to date.
A pillar of The Miami Foundation’s success is Give Miami Day, an annual giving movement that unites more than 1,000 nonprofits to inspire generosity through online giving each November.
Last year, 41,000 people contributed during Give Miami Day, raising $32 million – up from $1.1 million during the event’s inaugural day in 2011.
The Miami Foundation’s mission is to solidify Miami’s position as the most generous city in America, and Give Miami Day is the centerpiece. This year’s event takes place on November 16, and the team is working around the clock to ensure everything goes according to plan.
Soundbytes connected with The Miami Foundation’s President & CEO, Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, to discuss philanthropy in Miami and what’s on tap for Give Miami Day 2023.
Soundbytes: How has the recent influx of businesses and residents impacted philanthropy in Miami, and what’s the state of giving in our community?
“Miami is so alive right now. It has such magnetic energy and there are people from all around the world who are coming to help reimagine and grow our city. That growth has strengthened us, but it’s also exacerbated the challenges we’ve faced over the years.
Our experience is that people and companies want to get involved and demonstrate goodwill when they arrive. They are curious about the issues that matter most to the future of our community. They’re looking to give back, to become engaged, and to create connections. That’s a healthy and energizing dynamic. We want people to feel a sense of pride in their community, and we’re seeing that.
At the same time, it can be difficult arriving in a new place without context or a local network. Newcomers often don’t know where to turn, who’s doing what, and how to become plugged in. It takes time to grow accustomed to Miami’s ecosystem, especially when so many residents also have ties to other places they call home.
That’s where The Miami Foundation comes in. I think of us as Miami’s train station for giving. We educate donors about the community and help them align their philanthropy with Miami’s needs.”
Soundbytes: What’s the biggest challenge you face as someone working each day to advance quality of life here?
“We want everyone in Miami to thrive. This is a city with tremendous opportunity, and that’s a big reason why people are migrating here to expand businesses, establish homes, and create wealth for themselves and their families.
But so much rapid growth has created huge disparities. I think back to the pandemic, when it seemed like the entire technology universe was descending upon Miami just as thousands of schoolchildren were struggling with remote learning because they didn’t have reliable internet or a computer at home.
The world views Miami as a wealthy, cosmopolitan city in the middle of an economic boom, but we’re also among the three least affordable communities in the nation. People are spending too much just to get by, and we know that 50% of our population has $400 or less in savings. That means too many of our neighbors are vulnerable. It means there’s no margin for error when it comes to their car breaking down or their child waking up with a fever.
Affordability cuts across all corners of Miami, but that’s just one issue. Climate change is impacting communities everywhere, and we are on the front lines when it comes to tidal flooding and storm impacts. We must be a model for the rest of the world, so that other cities look to us for guidance on staying resilient and protecting people.
There is also work to do on education, transit access, healthcare, and more. Thankfully, Miami is a young city. We’re still finding our way, and we’re still attracting talent and wealth. Those two things make us well positioned to become even more generous.”
Soundbytes: Many Miamians are familiar with Give Miami Day – which is on Nov. 16 this year. How has the event evolved and how does it fit into The Miami Foundation’s broader strategy?
“Give Miami Day is the biggest moment of generosity in our community each year, and one of the largest in the U.S. Practically speaking, it’s when more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations in our community stand side by side to mobilize everyone in Miami to give back at the end of the year.
It’s also a day of unity. We see our nonprofits cheer each other on, and we see people discover new causes addressing issues they care about.
It’s tempting to look at the dollars raised – more than $32 million in 2022 – but what’s also significant is how many people are becoming engaged as donors. The idea that more than 40,000 people in Miami are going to donate on Give Miami Day is incredible.
The funds raised are critical to our nonprofits. Many of them are without flexible operating funds, and this is a great way for them to end the year on a high note. We spend months coaching organizations, helping them leverage the Give Miami Day platform to raise dollars and bring awareness to their work.”
Soundbytes: With so many worthy causes to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin. What are your recommendations for getting started?
“Get on GiveMiamiDay.org and check out that search feature. If you care about the environment, you can filter to see every nonprofit focused on that issue area, and read up on what they do. If you can’t choose, you can give to the entire category of your choice.
Give Miami Day is also an opportunity for businesses to galvanize their employees and support initiatives that matter to them. Many companies create their own corporate fundraising pages and encourage team members to mobilize their networks to support a larger goal. We also see many businesses matching their employees’ giving.”
Here’s how simple it is to get started with Give Miami Day!
First, log on to givemiamiday.org. Our site is live, so you can begin researching organizations and learning the ropes. We start accepting early donations at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 13, and the official event is all day on Nov 16.
Then, use the search bar to find causes that interest you. You can search by category, size of organization, and even by neighborhood. From there, you can learn about each nonprofit’s mission, board, budget, programs, and more. If you’re undecided, you can even contribute to an entire category, and your gift will support all the groups in that sector.
The minimum gift during Give Miami Day is $25. Better yet, every donation is matched on this one day of the year, so it’s a great way to maximize your impact.
Anyone interested in creating a corporate page should contact Trini Miguel at The Miami Foundation.
Soundbytes: Give Miami Day is already one of the nation’s biggest giving events. Where do you go from here? What are your broader ambitions for Give Miami Day, and how do you envision the initiative growing in the years to come?
“People naturally celebrate the amount of money raised, as if that’s the most important thing of the day. And it is crucial that we grow this number to help the nonprofits that are making our community stronger.
I’m also thinking about how we are going to grow the number of people in Miami who feel a civic responsibility and connection to a cause they believe in. How do we inspire more people to get engaged during Give Miami Day and throughout the year? How do we grow from 80,000 to 100,000 donations and beyond? How do we get to a point where hundreds of thousands of people are stopping what they’re doing that day to volunteer, have conversations about issues they care about and, if they can, donate. That’s where we’re headed.
New for 2023, we’re hosting a volunteer fair at Miami Dade College, where organizations will enlist supporters and build their networks. My hope is that Give Miami Day will soon be so big that we won’t be able to fit into one venue. It will be a community-wide event and we’ll be everywhere you look.”