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RSW Living Magazine

10 Southwest Florida Nonprofits in Need of Funding/Community Support in 2020

Rotarians with police. Photo courtesy of Sanibel Community House website.

The season of giving is just around the corner, so now's the time to refocus on those plans of doing good in the community and/or making a difference.

Here are 10 Southwest Florida nonprofits that are vital to the community and in need of help this holiday season.

Sanibel Historical Museum & Village

Mission: Sanibel Historical Museum and Village was founded in 1984 with a mission to preserve and share Sanibel history. The story of Sanibel is told from the Calusa and Spanish eras to the early pioneer families who settled on the island in the 1800s. It tells of warriors, adventures, fishermen, farmers, and proprietors.

Upcoming Events:
 "Museum Store Sunday" - Nov. 29, 2020, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Entrance to the store is free, but the museum and village will be closed. Items available for sale will include: jewelry and hand-crafted pine needle baskets, Calusa reproductions, cookbooks, history books, toys, and more.

How to Donate:
 All donations help the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village preserve and maintain the historic buildings, fund new exhibits, and displays, and continue to share Sanibel's history with visitors.
Donations of any amount can be made online or by check. Click here for more information.

Sanibel Community House

Mission: Established in 1927 as a local gathering place for all residents and visitors, The Community House was the birthplace for many civic groups and the incorporation of Sanibel as a city. The Community House is composed of three rooms that can be rented separately or all together (the entire building). Churches, civic organizations, clubs, nonprofits, and island families have used The Community House for parties, weddings, fundraisers, and other special events. Located conveniently on the west end of Periwinkle near Dunlop Road, The Community House is the place to meet neighbors and friends.

Upcoming Events:
 Arts & Crafts Show with Boulderbrook Productions. Nov. 28, 2020, 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. ($5 donation is suggested). Complete your holiday shopping while supporting local artists. Masks required.

How to Donate:
 The funds raised through membership dues, fundraisers, special events, donations, and room rental income are used to operate The Community House. Interested in sponsoring Sanibel Community Association and The Community House at a Patron Level?
Make a regular donation at a level of your choosing: $250 - $499 (Ruby Patron), $500 - $999 (Emerald Patron), $1,000+ (Diamond Patron).
For more information, to donate, or to become a member, click here.

Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida

Mission: Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida connects older adults and adults with disabilities to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity.

Upcoming Events:
 Magic & Mindfulness. Nov. 25, 2020, 5 - 6 p.m., Nov. 28, 4 - 5 p.m., Nov. 30, 6 - 7 p.m. In these pandemic times, finding ways to care for our minds is more important than ever. This interactive, online magic show will take place over Zoom with mentalist Paul Draper as he explores the "Mysteries of the Mind."

How to Donate:
 Want to make a lasting impact on the lives of Southwest Florida seniors? Your contribution will help work in the community by meeting the known and emerging needs of seniors. Unless otherwise specified, your donation will be directed to AAASWFL’s Agnes Laitinen Unmet Needs Fund. This fund assists elders and adults with disabilities in crisis when no other resources are available. Donors can also contribute to AAASWFL initiatives, such as health and wellness, elder abuse prevention, or Medicare counseling and outreach. You can also make a general contribution to the agency’s most pressing current needs. Click here to learn more.

Animal Refuge Center

Mission: As the largest no-kill shelter/sanctuary in Florida, The Animal Refuge Center, Inc. (ARC)'s philosophy avows that once an animal is accepted for adoption, it will not be destroyed to make room for another. ARC began as a hope for an alternative to euthanasia to deal with the problems of unwanted, healthy animals, and advocate the prevention of cruelty to animals. Unfortunately, euthanasia was the solution in 1987 for most cats and dogs in Lee County. In 1991, by soliciting donations from a committed community and obtaining a mortgage, the Animal Refuge Center was able to purchase its current home, situated on 22 acres in N. Ft. Myers.  

Upcoming Events:
 The 26th Annual Starlight Auction: Honoring the Memory of Sharon Bodenhafer. Nov. 28, 2020, 6 - 10 p.m. at Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, 17620 Harbour Pointe Drive, Fort Myers. As ARC’s signature event, the Starlight Auction is an opportunity to gather and celebrate the year’s successes and support ARC’s efforts to help homeless pets in need.

How to Donate:
 If you would like to help out, don’t worry, it’s easy and won’t take a lot of money or time. The ARC is always looking for donations of the following items: canned cat food, dry cat food, Temptation cat treats, dog biscuits and treats, Nulo canned dog food, Diamond dry dog food, six-foot dog leashes, paper towels, tall trash bags, dish soap, laundry detergent, bleach, Clorox bleach wipes, linens, industrial washable mop heads, brooms, buckets, dustpans, washers, dryers, pressure washers, air conditioners, and heaters. Monetary donations can also be made and/or memberships can be purchased online.
For more information, click here.

Florida Repertory Theatre

Mission: Florida Rep is committed to providing a first-class regional theatre for Southwest Florida; to creating, nurturing, and developing an ensemble of theatre professionals who will develop long term relationships working on a wide variety of plays; to helping improve the quality of life in our community through all the arts; and to making the arts, especially theatre, accessible to all.

Upcoming Events:
 Florida Rep is proud to continue its commitment to nurturing new plays and playwrights with its first VIRTUAL PlayLab Festival of New Works. Upcoming virtual events occur on Dec. 3 and 10, 2020.

How to Donate:
 Florida Repertory Theatre was founded in 1998 as an artist-driven, nonprofit organization serving as a creative hub for collaborating artists who bring a wide range of vision and aesthetics, varying backgrounds, and a strong commitment to the development of new plays and reinvestment in classics. Donations help improve the quality of life in Southwest Florida through first-rate live theatre productions and innovative community engagement programs.

Each year, Florida Repertory Theatre welcomes more than 97,000 patrons to our Arcade and ArtStage Theatres and provides performing arts education programs and presentations to more than 45,000 children. Ticket revenue and notoriety alone, however, are not enough to sustain the theatre. It needs support from individuals like you. Your contribution to Florida Repertory Theatre supports outstanding theatre experiences for patrons and students and helps ensure Florida Repertory Theatre remains a fixture in Southwest Florida’s vibrant cultural landscape.
Donations can be made to Florida Rep by clicking here.

Southwest Florida Symphony

Mission: The mission of the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra is to present outstanding music for the entertainment, enrichment, and education of the broadest possible public. Each year, the Southwest Florida Symphony presents a series of five Masterworks Concerts featuring music from the great symphonic repertoire ranging from the Baroque era through the 21st century. One hour prior to each Masterworks, patrons are invited to attend pre-concert lectures led by the conductor and guest artists. These lectures, which include Q&A opportunities, enhance our patrons’ concert experience by providing insight into the pieces being performed.

Upcoming Events:
 "Holiday Tiny Pops: I'll Stay Home For Christmas!"

Dec. 3, Cape Cabaret - 7 p.m., $25
Dec. 4, Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center - 5:30 p.m., FREE
Dec. 5, Bell Tower Shops - 4:30 p.m., FREE
Dec. 6, Sanibel Community House - 7 p.m., $39

How to Donate:
 Did you know it takes much more than ticket sales to bring orchestral music to Southwest Florida each year? Ticket sales cover only 40 percent of the Symphony’s annual expenses. The remaining 60 percent is provided by charitable contributions from friends like you, businesses, foundations, and grants.

Did you know it can cost up to $80,000 to produce a classical concert? Did you know the Symphony commits $100,000 each year to education and community outreach programs? Did you know Symphony educational programs reach 25,000 students each year? These are just some of the ways your gift impacts the Southwest Florida Symphony and your community.

There are many ways to make a gift to the Southwest Florida Symphony and each gift option has potential tax benefits to the donor who itemizes his or her deductions. Under the new tax laws, you can make a Qualified Charitable Distribution up to $100,000 ($200,000 for couples) from your IRA if you are over 70-1/2 years old.
Discover the various ways you truly can make a difference by clicking here.

Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs

Mission: The Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs is committed to enriching the culture of our diverse community by providing opportunities for artistic expression, education, and appreciation in a supportive and nurturing environment. Its vision is fulfilled through programs in the visual and performing arts. Art builds bridges between communities, generations, and nationalities. It serves as a common denominator among all economic groups and stimulates local economies. By instilling individuals with a feeling of self-worth and confidence, art encourages positive attitudes and helps people cope with change. Art can be therapeutic. It opens people's minds to new possibilities and their hearts to new understanding. A catalyst for friendships, art provides a foundation for shared experience.

Upcoming Events:
 "It's Abstract - One Night Event." Dec. 1, 2020, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. Explore the joy of your creativity. YOUR DESIGN, YOUR COLORS, this experience IS all about YOU! Learn how to create your vision on the canvas. At the end of the night, you will leave with a completely unique artwork.

How to Donate:
 AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support the Centers for the Arts every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection, and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to the Centers for the Arts. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.

Each fall the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs kicks off the Annual Fund. The proceeds from the Annual Fund are utilized to support adult and children’s programming, scholarships, outreach programs, the maintenance and beautification of the campus and galleries as well as the purchase of needed equipment. An Annual Fund gift of any amount is greatly appreciated and will result in the Centers for the Arts continuing to be a significant cultural resource to the community. Click on the link below to donate to the Centers for the Arts Annual Fund.

For information on these and other ways to donate, including corporate sponsorships, planned giving, and membership options, click here.

Everglades Wonder Gardens

Mission: In 1936, the Piper family established The Reptile Gardens as a roadside attraction along the newly built Tamiami Trail from Tampa to Miami. As the animal and botanical exhibits grew, the attraction’s name was changed to the Everglades Wonder Gardens to better reflect the experience available to guests. The Wonder Gardens captured the nostalgia, history, and wonder of old Florida, augmented with tropical flora and fauna from around the world. For nearly eighty-five years the Everglades Wonder Gardens has inspired, educated, and engaged our community and visitors with a one-of-a-kind experience.

Upcoming Events:
 Cocktails & Conversation. Dec. 3, 2020. An exclusive evening perfectly paired with an intimate lecture and discussion on engaging environmental subjects. The ticket includes two drink tickets and a unique selection of hors d’oeuvres.

How to Donate:
 Your gift today not only supports the more than 300 magnificent animals in our care, you are also helping to provide exceptional environmental education experiences to thousands of students from schools across SWFL and advancing nearly 90 years of our Everglades Wonder Garden’s story to the community and guests around the world!
  • $50 Helps deliver programs to a classroom of students at the Wonder Gardens or Virtually!
  • $100 Promotes the Wonder Gardens' story of Old Florida in outreach programs throughout SWFL
  • $250 Gives the Wonder Gardens' animals much-needed enrichment and delivers Keeper Talk programs
  • $500 Provides vital veterinarian care for one of the animals
  • $1,000 Supports improvements to the homes for the animal residents
  • $2,500 Benefits the ongoing growth of the gardens and strengthens the Wonder Gardens as a community asset
Click here for more information or to donate directly.

Cape Coral Historical Society and Museum

Mission: The Cape Coral Historical Society welcomes all generations to share the unique history of Cape Coral and Southwest Florida through collections, exhibitions, educational initiatives, programs, and research. The vision is for a center to engage and inspire a stronger community with greater social connection through honoring and promoting the history, culture, and unique character of Cape Coral.

Upcoming Events:
 “Jammin’ in Cultural Park.” Jan. 23, 2021. This year, the historical society is throwing it back to the 70s with a live DJ, performances by community groups like the Calendar Girls, and ending the night with a performance by local favorites Riverside. This year’s event will be held from 4 to 10 p.m. and will be following all suggested social distancing guidelines. The museum will be open during the event for families to tour and food trucks will be on site. Bring your friends and families out to shake off the 2020 blues and enjoy great food, wonderful music, and fascinating history.

How to Donate:
 The Cape Coral Historical Society & Museum functions through donations, fundraisers, and grants. Even if you cannot become a member of the Society or visit, you can still help!
If you would like to contribute to the preservation of the City of Cape Coral's history, or any of our other events or museum aspects, click here to donate online, stop in or send your monetary donations to:

Cape Coral Museum of History
544 Cultural Park Blvd
Cape Coral, FL 33990

Family Initiative

Mission: Family Initiative, Inc. is committed to engaging in community partnerships to empower families and ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children. Utilizing a family-centered and holistic approach, its mission is to maintain transparency in collaborating with all it serves.

Upcoming Events:
 Trust-based Relational Intervention Caregiver Training (all workshops hosted in a virtual classroom). Calling all Safe Children Coalition caregivers! Earn up to 9 hours of relicensing credit and get individual clinical support. Nov. 18, Dec. 2 and 9, 6 - 9 p.m. Register via email: [email protected]

How to Donate:
 Your tax-deductible donations can make a huge difference in the lives of the children and families Family Initiative serves! Wishlist items include:
  • Sensory circles: $50
  • Peapod seating: $75
  • Crashpad: $150
  • Bolster swing/net swing/raindrop swing: $500
  • Color changing tubes for sensory room: $1,800
  • Fiber optic corner: $2,800
  • Dream Wish: Hufcor movable wall: $20,000
Donations can be made by clicking here.