Why #FloridaGives

Posted on Nov 28th 2020 by Sharon LaSure-Roy

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Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good.  Recently, I had a chance to speak with Susan Towler, Vice President, Florida Blue Foundation and the Executive Director, Corporate Social Responsibility for Florida Blue, to chat about the work of the Foundation, the importance of Giving Tuesday and the #FloridaGives community campaign.  

Q: Susan, tell us about the Florida Blue Foundation and how it supports the Florida Blue mission of helping Floridians in their pursuit of health?

Susan:  The mission of the Florida Blue Foundation is to help people and communities achieve better health.  The Foundation strategically allocates grants toward philanthropic, community-based solutions through its focus areas and programs that focus on health solutions in the health care system, multicultural and growing populations, and critical issues of affordability, access, and quality.

Q:  The Florida Blue Foundation also hosts an annual community health symposium and Sapphire Awards, can you share with us more about this event?

Susan: In 2021, the Florida Blue Foundation will celebrate sixteen years of presenting the Sapphire Awards to individuals, programs, and organizations in community health. The first set of honorees were in 2005 and since that year, 95 Sapphire Awards, totaling more than $5.4 million, have been awarded to individuals, programs, and organizations from across Florida. Click here to see the Sapphire Award Winners from 2005-2019.

The symposium is a great professional development and networking conference for anyone involved in community health and non-profit work. As the 2020 Sapphire Awards dinner did not take place due to coronavirus concerns, the honorees will be recognized at the 2021 dinner, part of the Foundation’s annual Community Health Symposium that brings together health advocates from across the country to discuss major health issues. The 2020 Sapphire Award honorees will be recognized at the 2021 Community Health Symposium.

Q: What is the Foundation’s philanthropic philosophy?

Susan: The Florida Blue Foundation recently refreshed its strategic plan, and updated objectives and focus areas. We will prioritize our resources to improve the health outcomes of Floridians, while aligning our efforts with community needs and serving as a thought leader and trusted partner in our communities.

Through three new strategic Drivers of Health, we believe we are firmly positioned to make a difference in the health of individuals and communities in Florida through our philanthropic resources. The Foundation will focus its funding priorities on these three areas that have a significant impact on the health of Floridians: Food SecurityHealth EquityMental Well-Being. As we look at the magnitude of the challenges presented by COVID-19, we will stay focused on the individuals, families and communities in need, even more so, after this pandemic.

Q:  What is Giving Tuesday and why is it so important for non profit organizations?  

Susan: #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving and it is a great way to use social media to tell the story about volunteerism, collaboration and heart.  It is celebrated on the first Tuesday after shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday is sort of the start of the charitable season, when people are working on holiday and year-end giving, and this year it is more important than ever because organizations are facing severe fundraising shortages.

Q:  Susan, why was it important for the Florida Blue Foundation to work on a Giving Tuesday project?

Susan: The Florida Blue Foundation joined the #GivingTuesday movement because of a shared purpose with our communities. We wanted to know what Floridians’ favorite causes are and why they are grateful for those causes. Working with the #GivingTuesday movement is an opportunity to connect with our communities on a common cause, and Florida Gives was created four years ago.

Q: This is a great partnership, can you tell us how the program works?

Susan: #FloridaGives is a way to show that one person can make a difference. Between November 29th and December 4th, we are asking Floridians to upload a photo, video or essay about why they give.  Then, we will randomly select five individuals who will have a chance at winning $10,000 for their favorite charity.

Q:  It appears to be very easy, is it a social media campaign?

Susan:  It is more than a social media campaign; we think of it as a social movement campaign.  We want to move people to make a difference and what better way than to ask them what moves them.  All Floridians over the age of 18 can participate. 

We can’t wait to see the stories of what moves people to action and what moves them to give.

Thank you Susan, we know we are going to see some moving stories.  To learn more about #FloridaGives and how you can participate click on FloridaGives2020.


Filed under: Community  


Sharon LaSure-Roy

Sharon is a daughter, sister, proud mother & well-loved wife. She calls herself a #socialmedia storyteller and definitely not a guru. She is a proud graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Follower her on twitter at @sharonlroy and @chefandbride.

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