The Gateway City. The River City. The Bold New City of the South. Florida's First Coast. Ours is an emerging community and these changing monikers reveal much about its evolution. In the last quarter of the 20th century, Jacksonville, Duval County, and the counties that surround it began to move away from sleepy Southern traditions as they experienced unprecedented population growth. The influx of newcomers stimulated a new appreciation of the area's natural beauty and resources. And a new global economy triggered exploration of new economic opportunities. Community leaders began to think regionally, recognizing common interests and challenges best met by common effort.
Philanthropy on the First Coast, likewise, is emerging. With population growth has come new wealth, and organized philanthropy in the region has grown exponentially. Of the 320 foundations located on the First Coast, almost half have been created since 1996.
Philanthropy on the First Coast, however, is far from mature:
- Wealth, while present, is not widespread.
- Individual giving is below both national and state norms.
- Those individuals who give on the First Coast give generously, but the number of individuals who give is far lower than in other communities.
- Organized philanthropy, while growing, attracts less capital than in other communities.
- While new foundation formation is strong, the local foundation community remains dominated by three large, national foundations that are headquartered in Jacksonville. Without them, foundation assets per capita in the region would plummet almost 40 percent, from $1,082 to $656.
But philanthropy is gaining traction:
- There is significant wealth along the water – both ocean and riverfront – and those wealthy individuals demonstrate a strong culture of giving.
- The area's new foundations, as yet, are thinly capitalized (as are most new foundations). But they carry the potential to be substantial philanthropic assets. Over the next 25 years:, with no additional contributions to capital, the assets of these 146 new foundations could more than double while, at the same time, they could generate almost $300 million in charitable contributions.